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Life-sized dinosaur, real-life learning at Aspen school

Jeanne McGovern
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

ASPEN – There are plenty of ways for kids to learn about dinosaurs: books, movies, museums, action figures, the Internet. And there are plenty of ways for kids to share what they’ve learned: book reports, research papers, drawings, power point presentations.

But a group of Aspen Community School students has found yet another way to learn and share what they’ve learned – and it’s living in the school’s main lobby.

“My feeling is, if you’re going to study dinosaurs, then you need to study dinosaurs … not just models of them,” said Community School first- and second-grade teacher Chris Faison.

Indeed, Annie Apatosaurus has brought the kids’ recent dinosaur study to life. A life-sized replica of an apatosaurus, this cardboard creation goes beyond the normal school project.

“Dinosaurs were on our minds a lot,” Faison said. “So this project let us really dive into the topic in a way other types of studies might not.”

According to Faison, students in the school’s kindergarten, first and second grades traced various apatosaurus bones – about 100 total, in their actual size – onto paper to bring home and create out of cardboard, making the kids’ dinosaur study a family affair (all but five of the dinosaur’s bones were created by the kids at home). Then, the bones were brought back to school, painted and assembled by the same students and many of their parents. The end result: a 75-foot-long cardboard apatosaurus that stands more than 12 feet tall and winds its way through the school’s main lobby for all to see.

“It was 2D when we traced the bones, right? But what did it become when we started stringing the bones up?” Faison asked of the kids who gathered around to show off their “sculpture.”

“3-D!” many of them shouted in reply.

In addition, the students created a dinosaur book that highlights the research they did about the ancient animals during their school course work. And the dinosaur itself has a cardboard heart with all the kids’ names signed on it – perhaps the most meaningful part of the project.

“Really, for me, this project was about the kids and families getting involved in – and excited about – learning,” Faison said. “And I think it worked. It’s meaningful, and just look it … it’s impressive.”

jmcgovern@aspentimes.com


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