This activity aims to help students realize that scientific knowledge is partly a product of human inference, imagination, and creativity. The advantage of this activity is that students work with the same artifacts and data (fossil fragments) as paleobiologists.
Students are given a fossil fragment and asked to make a detailed diagram of it. In addition, they should describe the habitat, diet, behavior, and other characteristics of the organisms they have extrapolated from the fossil fragments.
During a discussion, it would be asked whether their knowledge affected the inferences the made to point out the idea that scientists' prior knowledge often influences their interpretations of the collected data and affect their conclusions. To address the subjective aspect of NOS, students' different inferences from similar or identical fossil fragments can be compared with each other.
(per student or pair of students) Fossil fragments (not complete fossils: examples ), construction paper, scissors.