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Mary Anning Activities

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

Mary Anning's role in paleontology is often overlooked which makes her a great figure to take time to examine. These activities can help your students engage in her life, work, and contributions to science.

Mary Anning

Mary Anning (1799-1847) was one of the first female paleontologists of the 19th century and a major contributor to our modern conception of the ancient geologic past. These activities can be use in history, social studies, geology, or natural science classrooms and are targeted for high school students. However, they can be easily adapted to middle school classrooms as well. In any case, you can use these to help students learn more about Mary Anning, her discoveries, and her place in history.

Mary Anning Activities.

Historical Marker Placard

This activity can be completed by students independently or in groups. Ask students to imagine that they have been commissioned by the UK's Royal Society to create a historical marker along the English Channel that notes the location where Mary Anning conducted some of her research. Students will design this marker and include on it biographical information about Anning, a summary of her discoveries and impact on science, and what specific contributions to science she made at/around the site of this marker. You can ask students to simply write out this information in their notebooks, or you can give them poster paper and ask them to create the historical marker to the best of their abilities.

  • Materials: Writing supplies, art and craft supplies as desired including poster paper.

Interview with Anning

Ask students to reflect for a few minutes on Mary Anning's life and contributions to science. Students will then write a list of 20-25 questions that they would ask Anning if they were able to conduct a formal interview with her. These can be questions about her life, her struggles as a woman scientist in 19th-century Britain, and/or her discoveries and theories.

Once students have written their list of interview questions, select one of the following options. First, ask students to now assume the role of Mary Anning and to answer their own questions, writing the answers as they thing Anning would. The other option is to ask students to partner up to conduct the interview, with one person being the interviewer and the other acting and answering the questions as Mary Anning, then switching roles.

  • Materials: Writing supplies.

Museum Guide

Provide students with long pieces of paper and show them how to fold it accordion-style into a pamphlet. Students are going to fill this pamphlet with information on Mary Anning.

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