Today's Science Friday activity tied in very well with the theme of Our Backyard. First I read an informational book called Tracks in the Wild. This book showed life-sized tracks of a variety of different animals, many of which are plentiful in the wooded areas all around Michigan. I then showed the students two REAL deer feet I found one day (at Treasure Mart, of all places!). These feet were obviously displayed in some den or bar somewhere - and for a long time, as they were very dusty!
Then each child got some clay and made a round, flat disk. Using a deer foot, they carefully made an impression in the clay. While the kids were at lunch, I fashioned a collar around each disk using poster board.
Later in the afternoon, small groups of children mixed up batches of plaster of paris. Once we got it to the correct consistency, we poured about 1/2 inch of on top of the clay. We had to work fast, as the plaster dries really quickly!
About 30 minutes later, we carefully removed the collars and peeled back the clay from the plaster. We successfully preserved the deer tracks, just like real naturalists.
Next week, we will attempt to find animal tracks in the woods. While we may not be lucky enough to find deer tracks, we may very well see some made by squirrels!