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Re: Fossilization Experiment

"Jerry D. Harris" wrote that he was seeking out a science experiment to
demonstrate the fossilization process:

>  -- I'm thinking here of
> something that would allow her to precipitate some crystals inside a hollow
> tube to mimic the permineralization process, and something non-toxic (maybe
> involving salt crystals?)--

I've got just the thing and it's online, and free.  The URL is as follows:

The activity (I'm not sure the term "experiment" applies) involves placing a
bone-shaped sponge into a big bowl of sand, pouring very salty water into the
bowl of sand, and leaving the bowl in a sunny place for a week until the sand
dries out.  When you dig up the "bone,"  the sponge will be very firm, having
absorbed the minerals in the sand (the salt).  Not bad, eh?

There is also an activity where you brush paint onto leaves or rocks and use
these to stamp the image onto paper, simulating carbonized fossils.  This
activity is online at
I've seen a slightly more advanced version of this where you use the smoke from
a candle flame to produce a carbon smudge on a piece of aluminum foil.  The
carbon smudge is then applied to the leaf (by placing the foil --
carbon-side-down -- onto the leaf and applying pressure to the foil with a
rubber roller).  The "carbonized" leaf is then used to transfer its form onto a
piece of paper by pressing it down onto the paper with a rubber roller.  I
suppose that charcoal or even carbon paper could be employed instead.  It would
be a good idea to hit the finished page with a shot of hairspray to keep it
from smudging.  Hairspray is a good, cheap substitute for fixative sprays.

At Bill Nye's site, <http://disney.go.com/DisneyTelevision/BilNye/>, you reach
the activities by clicking on "U-NYE-VERSE," then "EPISODE GUIDES," then you
pick the subjects (such as "Dinosaurs," or "Fossils" - the above activities),
click on the chosen subject, and click "GO."

Ralph W. Miller III  <gbabcock@best.com>

"And if you swat a mosquito down on paper, it looks like a fossil too."    8<(