A question about teaching science to home schooled kids?

Question:how can i give them a mental grasp on just how long 165 million yrs of dinosaur evolution really was? anyone have any ideas that will make it palpable in their minds?

The way my college professor made the point was to draw a very long line all the way across the room, and then at the very end put a tiny mark, basically just at the very end of the line. That was the part of time that humans have been on the earth, all the time (line) before that was "not us".

I'd also take them to a Natural History Museum, depending upon where you live (NYC has a great one) - to see the dinosaurs, that is a great trip!
you can take a rope about 100 feet long, tie a knot in it.

Then explain that that knot actually represents just ONE age or epoch.

Draw a dot on the rope and explain that this dot represents how long humans have been around.

Hope that helps.
Think of it in terms of a physical length. For example 10 dollars in quarters is about 5 inches. Or 1/8" thick. So multiply by 165 million by 1/8" and you get about 20 million inches. divide by 12 to get feet then divide by 5280 to get miles. Which I think is about 325 miles. of quarters stacked ontop of each other.

By the way, the dating for fossils uses circular logic. Let me explain. So called scientist posited that there existed a uniform collumn of development . This should in their mind correlate to dates of development. So then they find a fossil and place it within the collumn that they made up. So the made up date is transferred to the fossil.

The dinosaurs are really just big lizards that existed prior to the flood of Noah.

I am a cold rationalist, with a love for the facts of science rather than the rhetoric of the those that will not face them.
A visual always helps - is there a way you can show a timeline, perhaps along a wall, or even a long driveway?
You could use a long piece of rope or string to show time from beginning of dinosaur evolution until now, and figure out approximately how long 100 years would be on the rope (fraction of an inch for even a long rope I am sure). Most kids have a grasp of how long 100 years would be (perhaps the oldest person they have ever seen on TV or in a nursing home), and seeing that length as a microscopic portion of a 100' rope may help to put it in perspective for them!
I would share with them the process of discovery the scientists themselves went through (for instance, Darwin) and why they concluded what they did in regard to the passage of time. This helps them to develop rational inquiry skills as well.

For instance, much of the notion of long stretches of time is based on a combination of radiocarbon dating and other substantiating methods.

The truth is that most folks can't conceive of very long periods of time, and so they arrive at ignorant conclusions. The best we can do is show them examples of how things change over shorter periods of time and draw conclusions.
I had my daughter link drinking straws...1 straw for each million years. It took some time..and a fair amount of open space (we used the parking lot for our development..it is empty while everyone is at work) but it is pretty impressive and left a strong impression.
Say look at how old their grandparents are, then how old you are, then how old they are.

Good Luck ;)
Show them a ruler and tell them it represents a time line. Each inch is about 20 million years. Dinosaurs started at the first mark of the first inch and existed to the last mark of inch 9. Man is the last mark of 12" and has existed only to the size of that mark, 100,000 years.

Dinosaurs exists 9 whole inches and man less than a fraction of an inch.

Also, don't forget the add the "we believe" phrase.

Not of this is etched in stone and Science always changes it's mind, like it did with Pluto.

So "we believe or we currently believe" is always a good phrase to use.
We used the outside wall of our house, and divided it up with sidewalk chalk. Pretending to be archeologists we 'dug' down and found items in the sandbox. Each one had a tag on it and we marked it on the timeline.
That is a real good question, from the time children are little we try to teach/educate them truthfully, as well as teach them the difference between fact and fiction.
I have never given the theory of evolution much thought because explaining concepts that never occurred is not good science.
When the question comes up why do people think in such time lines I simply tell them "ask them if they were there"?
Science is here to explain, not proof.
Any theory we hold as true today can change tomorrow depending on the information that is added, or information that brings into question what we know to today.
How indeed can we make them comprehend *fiction*, and pass it off as *fact*?
I don't think you can. One reason is that you would have to prove this to be a fact which would leave you explaining what the difference is between a theory and fact.not the easiest thing to do either! There are some great books out there though about dinosaurs and stuff written by John Morris that breaks down the age of dinosaurs and what they may have looked like for younger elementary with pictures, etc. Warning.the books are from a Creation point of view.
I'm not sure how old they are, but if they are 8+, just tell them the facts. Young minds can grasp large consepts quite well actualy.
Well, this is a subject that I can really relate to since my 9yr old daughter wants to be a Palentologist. We recently found a whole section is the kids area of our Library that had Dinosaur books [ Discovering Dinosaurs:The Dinosaur Family Tree by Kunihiko Hisa/Sylvia A. Johnson; Where to look for Dinosaurs by Bernard Most] are just two of the books. The first one has a great visual that spans 5 eras (what they are thought to have started off as too animals that are related to them today).
There are also museums dedicated to just dinosaurs. The Royal Tyrell Museum in Ontario Canada will send your child a bi-monthly newsletter. There are some Dinosaur Parks (two off the top of my head are Dinosaur World in Fl & Alabama). There is also a workbook called ' The Complete Book Of Dinosaurs' by American Education Publishing grades 1-3 ( I got mine off of Amazon.com in the used section) the ISBN # is 1-57768-606-3 and their website is www.ChildrensSpeciality.com. As this book also employs educational skills (reading,writing,math,spelling... etc), I found it a pretty good book.

Hope this helps.

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