CATEGORY: 3-4, 5-6, STEMLinc

Secrets of the Lost Quarry

Course Access: Lifetime
Course Overview

STEMLinc video conferencing: Investigative skills will be put to the test in this interactive adventure! Journey into the Canadian Badlands to rediscover a fossil site lost over 100 years ago. Students will be transported through the Drumheller valley to collect and study evidence pointing to the location of a historic dinosaur quarry. (Image: LIZ CARLSON/STUFF )

Year Level: 3 -6

Duration: 45 minutes

STEM-in-a-box: No

Background information: In 1884, Joseph Burr Tyrrell (pronounced TEER-uhl), the Museum’s namesake, came to the Alberta badlands as a geologist with the Geological Survey of Canada.

  1. While prospecting for coal seams in the Red Deer River valley, he accidentally discovered the skull of a theropod dinosaur. Theropod – means “beast foot”, referring to the three-toed, meat-eating dinosaurs
  2. The dinosaur he found was later named Albertosaurus in 1905 in honour of Alberta.
  3. As word of dinosaur discoveries spread, fossil hunters travelled to the Alberta badlands during the Great Canadian Dinosaur Rush (1910 – 1917) looking for fossils.
  4. Fossil hunters travelled along the Red Deer River in rafts called scows. Scow – a flat-bottomed raft, capable of traversing very shallow waters

Search for the Lost Quarry

The clues have led to Horsethief Canyon; a canyon once used by horse thieves who hid and re-branded stolen horses among the hills. Prospecting is how palaeontologists find fossil evidence. This process involves searching the ground for small pieces of fossils. To find a lost quarry, evidence of people working must be found. This includes old newspaper bits, remains of field jackets, tin cans, buttons, etc. Importance of Finding Lost Quarries Many early fossil hunters did not collect all the fossils at a quarry. For example, if they were in a rush they may have collected only the skull, leaving the rest of the body behind. If the lost quarry can be found, there may be more fossils to find and collect.

By finding a lost quarry, new information can be found:

• The approximate age of the fossil by examining the rock in which the fossils were originally buried

• What the environment was like by the type of rock present

• How creature may have died

• If there were any other fossils not collected or associated with the original find

Prior Knowledge: Not needed but some pre/post activities can be downloaded here: Secrets of the lost quarry_TeacherGuide_Activities

Answer key to these activities can be downloaded here: secrets of the lost quarry_TeacherGuide_AnswerKey

Teacher’s guide to this activity can be downloaded here: secrets of the lost quarry_TeacherGuide_SotLQ2020

Learning Intentions: 

In this program students will:

  • Gain an appreciation of the work of a palaeontologist
  • Learn the differences between various fossilised bones and the environments where these can be located
  • Explore potential theories based on available fossil evidence


In this video conference students will:

  • Use deductive skills to gather evidence to find a lost dinosaur quarry in the Alberta badlands
  • Review the basic rock types, focusing on sedimentary rocks, and what they can tell us about the ancient Alberta environment
  • Explore the history of early fossil hunting in Alberta

Victorian Curriculum:

Science: Biological sciences

Years 3 -4

  • Living things can be grouped on the basis of observable features and can be distinguished from non-living things. (VCSSU057)
  • Different living things have different life cycles and depend on each other and the environment to survive (VCSSU058)

Years 5 – 6

  • Living things have structural features and adaptations that help them to survive in their environment (VCSSU074)
  • The growth and survival of living things are affected by the physical conditions of their environment (VCSSU075)

IMPORTANT:  Cancellation Policy

  1. When you book you will receive an automated message from Eventbrite.  Save this carefully please.
  2. Any cancellations need to be received in time for STEMLinc to re-sell your tickets to other teachers.
  3. Please use the Eventbrite confirmation email to facilitate any cancellation of your booking.  That will automatically release your ticket for re-sale on our system.
Date and TimeTicket availableBooking link
Term Lesson Date/time Click to book (Note 1 ticket = a class of 25 students)
2 June 6th 9.30 am Book here