Wednesday, May 17, 2017


Walking for science!

Years ago I did this workshop, which I borrowed from another source that I have since forgotten, about tracks and track analysis. You roll out a long piece of paper on the floor (blank newsprint or unused plotter paper both work well — there are usually pretty long pieces at the ends of rolls that, for some reason or another, can't be used for their intended purposes) people step in tempera paint (which will not wash off clothing!) and then walk down the paper. Or run. Or hop. After all, animals don't always walk the same way either. Anyway, then you use a meter stick to measure foot length, pace, and stride. There's a pretty standard ratio in humans between foot length and leg length and because you have the actual legs handy, you can calculate it for the particular group. (It's a fun exercise to then use the number for dinosaurs and compare.) Then using some well-known formulas you can calculate walking speed and fun things like that. Kids always enjoy the first part of the project even if they don't necessarily enjoy the calculations. If they don't want to get paint on their feet they can wear gallon Ziploc bags with rubber bands holding them on. But come on, who doesn't want red or blue feet!

This is a fun activity with major implications for hunting, biology, and paleontology. Students of trace fossils, ichnologists, do this all the time.

If you want the guidebook I wrote for the activity, drop me a line and I'll send you a PDF email me at jopnquog at gmail.

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