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What if you could travel back in time and put a tracking device on a T-Rex?

Join us for a truly imaginative journey!

A mysterious envelope arrived in the mail addressed to the Kindergartners from the American

Museum of Natural History! Students watched a televised message from a scientist asking for help with her new project - Paleo Tracking! She challenged the Kindergartners to build a time machine, travel back to the Cretaceous and place a tracking device on a T-Rex! Their mission would help scientists answer questions about the behavior of the T-Rex. How far did it roam in one day? How long did the T-Rex sleep? Was it really a hunter, or was it more of a scavenger?

In their envelope, students discovered a custom time-machine key and a tracking device!

They began preparing for their mission by generating questions.

  • How will we go back in time?

  • How will we all fit into the time machine?

  • What will we use to build it?

  • How will we not get eaten by the T-Rex?

  • How can we protect ourselves?

  • Will we need potions?

  • How can we find the right T-Rex?

  • When we get out of the time machine, will other dinosaurs be there?

  • How will we put the tracker on the T-Rex?

These questions led to a discussion about using their imagination. Students imagined what features they might need on their time machine. They collaborated with partners to draw up a possible plan. When sharing their time machine sketches, they decided that the important features were a control panel, a potions lab, and an ignition to turn it on.

The build began! Students collected materials from the maker space and got to work.

Kindergartners collaborated to decide which moments in earth’s history they should add to their control panel. They relied on their learning from a previous project with the fifth graders, where they built a timeline (to scale) in the sand at the beach!

How could they make sure the control panel worked correctly? Play-testing! Now that the time machine was complete, students considered many strategies to attach their tracker to a T-Rex.

After sharing their ideas with each other, the Kindergartners made a decision to use a “tricking team” to lead the T-Rex away from the time machine. One team member would give it a sleeping potion, while another waited for the right moment to attach the tracker. Before their time machine launch, students acted out various scenarios with their silly T-Rex teacher.

On the morning of their launch, students felt prepared and excited for their journey! With their time machine fired up, they imagined spinning back to the Cretaceous. Their time machine landed with a thump and they found themselves in a forest in North America…just the right place to look for a T-Rex. They observed a small herd of Triceratops grazing and patiently waited to see if any other dinosaurs were nearby. Suddenly, a T-Rex roared in the distance and plodded toward the Triceratops.

As the Triceratops backed away, the T-Rex turned his attention to the Kindergartners’ “tricker team.” They bravely sprang to action and taunted the T-Rex away from their friends. Meanwhile in the time machine, students were making observations and recording the first videos every taken in the Cretaceous time period!

A sleeping potion was administered successfully! When the T-Rex began snoring, the tracking device was secured to its leg.

If you had free time to hang out in the Cretaceous forests while a T-Rex slept peacefully nearby, what would you do? Feed the Triceratops, of course!

As soon as the T-Rex began stirring, the Kindergartners hurried to their time machine and sped back to present day. They received the following update from the scientist monitoring the tracking device. “Your T-Rex roamed 10 miles along the river until night. He got sleepy and rested for 7 hours. When he woke up, he was hungry for meat. He ventured off into the woods and snuck up on a herd of Triceratops. Unfortunately, his roar scared them away again. He walked 3 more miles until he found the body of a dead dinosaur. This was just the food he needed. After eating, he took a peaceful 2-hour nap by the stream.”

Driven by student curiosity, the Kindergartners’ journey back in time was joyful, experiential fun! This project embodied several mindsets at Sycamore. Students learned to collaborate through many opportunities to share ideas, build, and act together. They practiced critical thinking by asking questions, considering each other’s ideas, making decisions as a scientific research team. Most importantly, children and adults played together, living imaginatively in a wild adventure!

Special thanks to our fifth grade buddies, who helped bring the Cretaceous to life!

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