Our world is full of secrets. From dinosaurs to WWII oceanic wrecks there is a lot to be discovered. Here is a look back at some of our discovery based activities focusing on Mongolia and Papua New Guinea.
In southern Mongolia and northern and northeastern China lies the Gobi Desert. It is a large desert, 6th largest in the world and 2nd largest in Asia. With sand dunes and camels the Gobi is as picturesque as any desert. But the Gobi has a secret laying beneath the sand- Dinosaurs.
The Gobi desert used to be a dense forest full of evergreens with streams and lakes mixed in. Among the amazing discoveries made in the Gobi are a plethora of different species’ eggs. Plus, the Jurassic Park favorite, velociraptors, were first discovered in the Gobi desert. Since the first paleontology expedition in 1920, countless plant and animal fossils have been discovered and scientist have learned so much from this one geographical location.
The scientist who study dinosaur bones and fossils are called paleontologists. They dig in the ground and follow clues to discover new things about life with the dinosaurs. So Martin put on his dinosaur hat (not literally) and became a paleontologist for a day.
To search for dinosaur fossils you need 3 things:
Fossils and dinosaur bones to look for
I found some really cool plastic fossils at our local craft store, you can also use plastic dinosaurs and they sell those at most discount mega stores.
I found a cool recipe for diy sand (see below)… but if you can get sand, just use sand. Our stores did not have play sand for sale, so I made this out of necessity and it worked great but honestly if you can get your hands on some sand use that mixed with a little water.
Tools to carefully dig them out of the earth
I pulled out a random assortment of toys for Martin to use, his plastic hammer, a play screwdriver, and one of his large paint brushes.
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 2 cups cornmeal
- 1 cup salt
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 3/4 cup water
Mix them all together except for the water, add the water a little bit at a time until you have reached ‘wet sand’
To Make You Dinosaur Dig
You will need:
- Loaf pan or small baking dish
- Shallow plastic bin or 9×13 cake pan
- Digging tools and brushes
- Optional magnifying glass and journal for observations
Start by layering and packing the sand and fossils into the small dish or pan.
When the dish is full, carefully flip it upside down on top of the bin or cake pan.
Sit back and let your paleontologist go to work discovering and digging up fossils!
The best part is you can pack, dig, repack and dig again! We discovered the fossils at least 5 times in a row before he was ready to move on. Martin loved being a paleontologist and learning about dinosaurs in the Gobi Desert and the scientists who study them!
Papua New Guinea
During World War II the battle in the Pacific was very important and very tragic. Thousands of locals, soldiers and seamen lost their lives as bombs were dropped, plains crashed into the ocean, and ships were sunk. Today the ocean floor around Papua New Guinea is littered with crash sites.
The scientists who discover and study these underwater sites are marine archeologists. With the help of an interactive art project Martin got to try his hand at underwater discovery!
Marine Archeology Activity
You will need:
- a white crayon
- blue water colors
- thick paper
Start by drawing a treasure map, underwater seascape or anything your heart desires on the paper with the white crayon. Then with the watercolors paint over the crayon to reveal the hidden picture!
When exploring the seafloor, there is an element of surprise when you finally see something. In the same sense, you slowly discover the hidden pictures as you paint!