Dinosaur Fever! Teaching Jurassic Park With Flair
Michael Crichton’s novel Jurassic Park was perhaps The DaVinci Code of the early 90’s, especially once the movie premiered. With its “scientific methods” for re-creating dinosaurs having everyone checking their amber jewelry for a preserved mosquito, it caused a bit of a stir in scientific circles. However, when it comes to the classroom, the novel is perfect for high school level instruction, with its mix of action/adventure, scientific and chaos theory, the overarching theme of man playing God, and good old dinosaurs that every kid loved when he or she was little. So, by incorporating the novel into the curriculum, you are mixing the old with the new and are sure to have an exciting unit ahead of you.
If students have knowledge of dinosaurs, which, for the most part, they will, it might not be very scientific knowledge. Of course, they may be familiar with the movie version of Jurassic Park and if they paid attention in elementary school, they most likely recall a unit on dinosaurs; teaching them about cold-blooded animals and that dinosaurs were early reptiles, information that has been since proved to be inaccurate. Before undertaking this novel, it is important to go over what can generally be called “The Age of the Dinosaurs.” Use the downloadable power point and you will be able to review key terms and ideas, give a general timeline for what dinosaurs lived when, and even perhaps have students research a particular dinosaur from a particular era to present to the class.
This is a quick and easy way to begin your unit of study on the novel Jurassic Park. For students who have seen the film, remind them that the novel is much more scientific and sinister in nature and that the movie and novel have a great many differences, even in terms of survival of the main characters. That may encourage them to give the novel a try.