Educational Resources

Educational Resources provided by the Tate Geological Museum:

Museum Outreach

Tate Virtual Tours

To organize your classroom or group’s live, interactive virtual tour, please call the museum at 307-268-2890 or email Russell at All of these tours can be adapted for any age group or learning outcomes. Please let us know if you have specific requests when you schedule your tour.

Teeth, Claws and Dinosaurs: Animals have different sizes and shapes of teeth, claws and bones to help them to feed and survive, and dinosaurs were no different!  In this virtual tour the Tate Geological Museum education specialist will show the students dinosaur teeth, claws, eggs and other fossils from a variety of prehistoric animals and explain how we can look at their shapes to determine if each animal was an herbivore or a carnivore. How did the carnivores kill their prey? How did the herbivores protect themselves? What did a dinosaur use its tail for? The answers are all right there in the teeth and bones! This tour is geared towards students ranging from Pre-school age up to second grade, but slightly older students could still enjoy it. Please let us know at least two weeks in advance if your class is older, so we can adjust content.

Rocks and Minerals: What is the difference between rocks and minerals? How do geologists tell different kinds of minerals apart? This is a presentation of minerals and rocks, and an explanation of the various intrinsic properties that geologists use to distinguish them, including luster, fracture, crystal structure and cleavage planes. We will make use of the Tate Geological Museum’s extensive collection of specimens, so that students can see great examples of minerals such as quartz, calcite, hematite, selenite and others.  This tour is aimed at fourth graders, but students anywhere from third grade up through middle school ought to find it interesting and informative. Please let us know at least two weeks in advance if your class is older, so we can adjust content.

An abbreviated version of “The Rocks of Casper Mountain” tour can be found on our YouTube page. Be sure to watch all three segments!

From Turtles to T. Rex Tate Geological Museum Tour: Take a virtual tour of the Tate Geological Museum’s collection of fossil creatures! Wyoming has produced some of the most numerous and spectacular fossils in the world, and the Tate showcases some of the finest. See Dee (the largest Columbian mammoth mounted for display anywhere in the country) Nicole the Torosaurus (which had the biggest head of any dinosaur) and Ben’s Big Turtle (How big? The size of a coffee table!) and we can’t forget Lee Rex (the only T. rex found in Wyoming that has stayed in Wyoming!) as well as many other fascinating creatures from the past including the skull of another Tyrannosaurus rex, pterodactyl footprints and even a fossil whale. This tour is designed for students ranging from second grade up through fifth grade, but middle schoolers or even high-schoolers should still be able to get a lot out of it.  Please let us know at least two weeks in advance if your class is older, so we can adjust content.

Scavenger Hunt

Do you want your visit to the Tate Geological Museum to be more interactive? Try to answer all of these questions while you’re here!

  1. During which epoch did Dee live?
  2. Were mammoths herbivores, omnivores, or carnivores? How do we know this?
  3. Who has a bigger brain, humans or Tyrannosaurus rex?
  4. What product mined in Wyoming is used in kitty litter?
  5. Where was Wyoming located during the Cambrian period?
  6. Describe the climate in Wyoming during Eocene time. How do we know this?
  7. On the touch table is a fossil that might be described as the “Milky Way.” What kind of fossil is this and what part are you seeing in the rock?
  8. Name the three types of meteorites. Which is most common?
  9. Name the two types of jade.
  10. Which Oligocene animal has a tooth shaped like the Greek letter pi?
  11. Name one Triceratops bone on exhibit.
  12. What is a theropod? How many toes do they have?
  13. What shape are the scales on a gar?
  14. Where was Dee’s skull found? Describe a hypothesis as to why the skull was not near the rest of the skeleton.
  15. What was Ben’s BIg Turtle’s last meal?
  16. What is the chemical formula for Stibnite? Is it a silicate or non-silicate mineral?
  17. What was one of the largest predators of the White River badlands?
  18. What marine animal had the largest eye of any vertebrate?
  19. What kind of animal is “Twinkle Toes?”
  20. During what era was the granite that makes up the core of Casper Mountain formed?
  21. What kind of teeth does a whale need to eat a mixed diet? Use the whale wheel to help answer this question. Can Basilosaurus eat a mixed diet?
  22. What type of animal is Oomtar? Where was he discovered?
  23. What do the dark gray circular areas on Dee’s skull indicate?

Print a version of this scavenger hunt (with spaces for answers) for your Tate Museum visit. (PDF available upon request)

We encourage you to come on in to the museum and try the scavenger hunt, but if you must know the answers… (PDF available upon request)

Educational Outcomes

How a visit to the Tate Museum can contribute to achieving common core goals.

Third Grade

  • At the Tate Geological Museum third grade students will see an enormous variety of fossil plants and animals of the past. Some of these are quite similar to forms that are still extant today – crocodiles and sharks, for example – while others, like dinosaurs and pterodactyls, are quite unlike anything living in the world today.
  • Many of the fossil species on display at the Tate are adapted to live in environments very different from those of modern Wyoming. The presence of gars, baldcypress and palm trees, for example, clearly indicate the climate of Wyoming 50 million years ago was much warmer and wetter than it is at the present time.
  • The role of environmental change in the survival or extinction of an organism is evident in the Tate’s exhibits. The change in the fauna and flora of the White River Formation that took place as the climate became cooler and more arid is illustrated, as well as the most famous extinction event of all – the demise of the dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous.

Fourth Grade

  • The Tate provides a variety of tours and presentations, either at the museum itself or available as outreach, dealing with the way that erosion by ice and water has shaped the landscape, as well as other processes including orogeny, plate tectonics and volcanism. A series of maps in the museum displays illustrate the changes that have taken place in the Wyoming landscape over time.
  • The Tate is a great place to compare skulls and skeletons. The size, shape and proportions of an animal’s bones are exquisitely adapted for locomotory functions, food procurement, and other behaviors which help it survive in its environment. Clues about the function and efficacy of an animal’s special senses can be gleaned from an examination of its skull, not only from observing, for example, the size, shape and position of its orbits but from more subtle clues like the various foramina for cranial nerves.
  • The Tate’s displays effectively illustrate the process of biostratigraphy, whereby layers of rock and the fossils within them allow geologists to reconstruct the sequence in which they were formed, and the changes to the environment that took place over that time scale.

Fifth Grade

  • The Tate’s mineralogy displays cover the topic of geochemistry and, in particular, the way that different elements can combine to form different minerals. The chemical formula of many different minerals are displayed, as well as samples of the pure elements from which they are derived.
  • The Tate staff can also cover the geosphere, and show how it is divided up into layers such as the asthenosphere or the lithosphere, based on either mineralogical composition or physical properties. The theory of plate tectonics and its relevance to the geosphere would also be covered.
  • Fossils allow scientists to reconstruct ancient ecosystems in great detail, especially in a fossil-rich state such as Wyoming. Reconstructions of several such ecosystems are on display at the Tate, as well as evidence explaining why those ecosystems changed over time – sometimes with disastrous results.