Activity for The Day the Mesozoic Died
This activity explores the research described in the short film The Day the Mesozoic Died. The film traces the uncovering of key clues revealing that an asteroid struck Earth 66 million years ago, triggering a mass extinction.
The Day the Mesozoic Died and this supporting activity can be used in several science classes, as it presents a stellar example of many different disciplines (geology, physics, biology, chemistry, and paleontology) contributing to a compelling hypothesis.
The “Student Handout” probes students’ understanding of the key concepts addressed in the film. The “Educator Materials” document provides suggested pause points in the film with questions for students, background information, and detailed discussion points; a list of related resources and references; and an answer key for the “Student Handout.”
Student Learning Targets
- Explain how evidence collected from multiple sources and disciplines support the hypothesis that an asteroid triggered the Cretaceous-Tertiary mass extinction.
asteroid, Cretaceous period, dinosaur, foraminifera, K-T boundary, mass extinction, Paleogene period, Tertiary period
Alvarez, Luis W., Walter Alvarez, Frank Asaro, and Helen V. Michel. “Extraterrestrial cause for the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction.” Science 208, 4448 (1980): 1095–1108. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.208.4448.1095. To access this article, set up a free AAAS account.
Smit, J., and J. Hertogen. “An extraterrestrial event at the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary.” Nature 285, 5762 (1980): 198–200. https://doi.org/10.1038/285198a0.
HS-LS4-5, HS-ESS1-6; SEP6
EVO-1.M, EVO-1.N, EVO-3.G, EVO-3.J, ENE-4.B, SYI-2.C; SP1
Topic(s): 2.3, 2.6
Learning Objectives & Practices: ERT-2.E, ERT-2.H, SP2, SP4, SP5
CC1, CC5; DP1