Teaching Students About the Maastrichtian Age


The Maastrichtian Age is a fascinating chapter in Earth’s geologic history, spanning from about 72.1 million to 66 million years ago. As the last stage of the Late Cretaceous epoch and the entire Mesozoic Era, this period saw the final days of dinosaurs and the early rise of mammals. Educators can harness the excitement surrounding these events to teach students about the natural processes that shaped our planet’s past and future. This article explores effective ways to engage students in learning about the Maastrichtian Age.

Incorporating Visuals and Interactive Materials

Students are more likely to retain information when they have access to visual aids and engaging activities. Using high-quality photos, videos, and illustrations to show what life looked like during Maastrichtian times can help give learners context and fuel their imaginations. Encourage students to create their drawings or dioramas, depicting landscapes and creatures from this period. Teachers can incorporate digital resources such as virtual reality or online simulations for an immersive learning experience.

Connecting with Paleontology

Understanding Earth’s history requires exploring evidence left behind in fossils, rocks, and sediment layers. To help students make these connections, incorporate hands-on experiences with paleontology into lessons about Maastrichtian times. For example, take a field trip to a local natural history museum or arrange for a paleontologist guest speaker in class. Alternatively, allow students to become “paleontologists for a day” by examining specimen kits with microscopes or 3D-printed fossils.

Integrating STEM Concepts

As students learn about extinct species and geologic phenomena from the Maastrichtian Age, challenge them to analyze real data and draw conclusions based on evidence. Teachers should cultivate students’ critical thinking skills while incorporating STEM concepts, such as geology, paleoclimatology, physics, and biology. For example, present learners with data about fluctuating sea levels during the Late Cretaceous period and have them analyze and interpret information.

Teaching About Mass Extinctions and Environmental Change

One key aspect of the Maastrichtian Age is the mass extinction event that led to the disappearance of non-avian dinosaurs and many marine reptiles. By teaching students about extinctions and environmental change, educators can foster important conversations about modern challenges facing ecosystems around the world.

When presenting on mass extinction events in Earth’s history, instructors can create opportunities for collaborative in-class discussions or debate teams. Assign research projects for students to examine a specific species from this period and investigate why it may have gone extinct. This exercise allows learners to explore topics related to climate change, habitat loss, and human impact on ecosystems.


Educators play a vital role in inspiring interest in earth science by teaching students about exciting historical periods like the Maastrichtian Age. By implementing hands-on learning experiences, incorporating STEM concepts, and engaging with questions about current environmental challenges, instructors can set students on course for a lifelong appreciation of our planet’s remarkable history.

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