Bones of Turkana

Bibliographic information: National Geographic Television: Bones of Turkana: http://education.nationalgeographic.com/education/bones-of-turkana/?ar_a=1

Brief description: Bones of Turkana is a film that follows a famous paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey, his family and colleagues as they look for evidence of human evolution in the Kenyan desert. They are researching traits that make us human and are starting where humanity started, in Africa. This website contains activities for use in the classroom, as well as video clips from the film. The clips address the humanoid fossil evidence and early tools gathered at the Turkana site and its links to evolution. There are also photo galleries and maps to help students learn about evolution from one of the few places with 4.5 million years of human history.

Qualitative  Analysis: Background information is useful, but not necessary for understanding. There is a wide array of text features provided with each video clip, such as a section of background information. The videos also have discussion questions and a short answer for each question. There is also a vocabulary list that includes terms, parts of speech, definitions and for some entries, encyclopedia links as well. Finally, there is an ‘explore more’ link that provides access to more information on the top of the featured video clip. Vocabulary is fairly complex and sometimes unfamiliar, but should not cause problems with comprehension because of the provided vocabulary definitions. There are multiple levels of meaning. Some are clearly stated and others are left for the reader/viewer to identify. The film explores themes of varying levels of complexity. There is distance between the reader’s experiences and those in the text, but there is acknowledgement of these divergent experiences and sufficient explanation to bridge these gaps.

Subject area: History, Anthropology, Science

Personal thoughts: This site has very interesting videos of the fossil dig. I have always been fascinated by archeology, so it is informative to see how things work at the base camp and the processes involved in looking for, uncovering and preserving the fossils.

Subjects/themes: evolution, fossils, humans, Africa

Awards: 2012 CINE Special Jury and Masters Series Awards for Original Digital DocumentaryGolden Eagle Award

Character names/descriptions: Richard Leakey is a famous paleoanthropologist who works with a team to uncover links between humans and ancient humanoid fossils discovered in Africa.

High interest annotation: Join an expedition to uncover fossils that are millions of years old and may hold a key to the evolution of humanity.

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