By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Seventh-graders at Tupelo Christian Preparatory School didn’t have to travel far to go back in time by 70 million years.
Thirty-one students dug for fossils behind the school during their life science class on Friday. They were joined by a Mississippi State University assistant professor, an education consultant and members of the North Mississippi Gem and Mineral Society.
“My goal is that students observe,” said Andi Wilhite, department chair for the junior high and high school science department at TCPS. “I want them to see what is below their feet. It excites me that the kids are so excited about this.”
The activity was connected to a grant that Wilhite had received to attend the Teaching Academy of Natural Sciences at Mississippi State. As part of the three-year program, university professors visit the participating teachers at various times to co-teach with them. MSU Assistant Professor of Geosciences Renee Clary was on hand on Friday, as was Deborah Tucker, a science education consultant from California. Tucker is an evaluator for the grant.
Students found several fossils on Friday while digging through outcroppings that were once covered by an ocean during the Cretaceous Period, between 70 and 85 million years ago. They found several clam and oyster shells.
“It is cool because we get to find shark teeth and vertebrae of animals,” said Mollie Beard, 12. “Before they built our school, it was surrounded by an ocean.
“It is cool to see what God had created before we were here.”
Fellow student Emma Woolhouse, 12, was impressed by what was at the school’s doorstep.
“I think it is really fun because it is right here at our school,” she said.