Students came face-to-face with a diversity of spooktacular skulls! Watched a live colony of flesh-eating beetles in action as they devour and clean flesh from bones. Examined eye sockets, teeth, and other features to find out if mystery skulls were predator or prey.
This program supported the Next Generation Science Standards by focusing on the Crosscutting Concept: Structure and function.
Although skulls can't talk, they communicate a lot with their teeth and eye sockets!
In this 45 minute program, 3rd – 5th graders were invited to become Science Detectives to solve the mysteries that skulls communicate.
As Science Detectives, students bite into their first mystery: What would this animal have eaten? Together they solved a mystery that was looking at us straight in the face: Is this animal a predator or prey? Then, they practiced their detective skills to determine the identity of two mystery animal skulls. Students applied their new understandings immediately! Finally, we all watched a live colony of flesh-eating beetles in action as they devour and clean flesh from bones. Eeeeww!
Please prepare the following materials for each student so they can explore different teeth to eat different types of food. (Each student will only need to chew a small piece or slice when our educators instruct to do so.)
- Food item chewed with incisors/front teeth (strawberries, celery, or apples)
- Food item chewed with canines/fang teeth (dried fruit, jerky, or dry baguette)
- Food item chewed with molars/back teeth (popcorn, pretzels, or nuts)
Please be mindful of students’ food allergies. The food types listed here are only suggestions; other foods can be used to make the same points
"I am always looking for free resources. My curriculum is seriously out of date, so I often have to find online resources or spend my own money on science materials. I'm grateful that Cal Academy offers different programs and resources that are aligned to Next Gen standards and are available at low or no cost. Please keep providing these experiences for students. The Skulls presentation was more than I ever could have done in the classroom and fit in perfectly with what we have been learning (animal habitats, adaptations, food chains)."
- 3rd Grade, St. Lawrence O'Toole School, Oakland CA
"We've been studying ecosystems, so it was very relevant. Plus we're a hunting/subsistence community in Alaska, so skulls are something they see on a regular basis."
– 3rd -5th Grades, Northway School, Northway AK
"They were also very engaged and like reading the comments of children from other schools as well. We recently studied the human body, so later in the day we discussed the experience then compared the predator/prey characteristics of animal skulls to the characteristics of the human skull.”
- 3rd Grade, Escuela Bilingue Internacional, Emeryville CA