Fossils to Fur: Meet the Cleveland Museum of Natural History

June 04, 2019

This post is part of a series. Click here to read our Meet the Provider series.

GAR Foundation recently announced the launch of a new $1.2 million investment called Essential Experiences to provide every Akron Public Schools student in Pre-K through 5th grade with a meaningful learning experience outside of the classroom. Students visit six local cultural and historical organizations to participate in educational programming directly connected to classroom learning.

Host organizations include ArtSparksAkron Art MuseumCleveland Museum of Natural HistoryAkron ZooHale Farm & Village, and Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens.

The Essential Experiences initiative addresses the need for high-quality experiential learning and draws from research supporting the value of co-curricular experiences. Three important elements make these experiences more robust than a traditional field trip:

  • Curriculumbased: the experiences are designed by professional educators to connect directly to the content being taught and learned in students’ own  classrooms.
  • Equity and inclusion: Prior to this initiative, field trips were not guaranteed for every child and every classroom across the district. Essential Experiences ensures that every child in every participating  grade gets to have the same valuable experience.
  • ConsistencyEssential Experiences provides students with a consistent, hands-on, grade-appropriate experience to support their learning each year

Meet the Host: Cleveland Museum of Natural History

Through this initiative, all Akron Public Schools second grade students visit the Cleveland Museum of Natural History for a customized science program called Fossils to Fur.

 To prepare for the visit, the students participate in an inquiry activity that introduces them to some of the fossils that they’ll see at the Museum and encourage them to think like a scientist as they analyze these clues from the past. The students and teachers also all have access to the Museum Mondays program, a virtual opportunity to “talk” with a scientist from the classroom.

Up-close, hands-on experiences are found to increase both understanding of and interest in science concepts as well as increase social-emotional skills in students.

At the museum, the students use clues, their knowledge of fossils, observation and deduction skills, and research about extinct animals to investigate what the world was like during pre-historic times. Back in the classroom, students complete activities that identify the types of careers that study pre-historic life and their ecosystems to complete this “Fossils to Fur” experience.