Program Details:

Animating Fossils Through Performance in Jefferson County Schools

Shine is a musical performance created by Beth Osnes that weaves together climate science and artistic expression into a funny and powerful story that spans 300 million years of geological time. Fossils in the Classroom is five-lesson hands-on science curriculum created by James Hakala, that engages students and teachers in the study of fossils and aims to get students turned on to science through paleontology.

Our goal is to combine these two successful projects - one art and one science - into a “new” resource that provides real world context and understanding to a science unit of study that can seem removed from students’ everyday lives and to test this prototype resource with classes in the Jefferson County (Jeffco) school district. This project is also committed to making the work of CU Boulder’s distinguished faculty accessible to the public.

The project will incorporate Module 1 of Shine "Ancient Plants and Animals Capes and Long Time Comin’ song" into the Fossils in the Classroom curriculum as an additional “Laboratory Investigation” to be used as a “pre-unit” or introductory lesson. This module’s themes are the Carboniferous Period, Expansion of Ancient Plants and Animals on Land, Photosynthesis, and the Formation of Fossil Fuels. These themes directly relate to Laboratory Investigations 1. (How Fossils Form) and 2. (Using Fossils to Date Rocks) in the Fossils in the Classroom kit. The performance-based Shine module will provide a visceral real- world understanding of fossils and why their study relates to us today.

This is a private program by request only, or for a specific audience or group. For more information, please visit the program website.


In Colorado

  • Golden

Program Partners

Supporting This Program

  • Beth Osnes, CU Associate Professor of Theatre and Environmental Studies
  • Cathy Goodheart, Jeffco Elementary Science Content Specialist
  • Cecily Klein, Jeffco Director of Curriculum and Instruction
  • James Hakala, Senior Educator with the CU Museum of Natural Science
  • Patrick Chandler, CU Environmental Studies graduate student, experienced environmental educator
  • Tami LoSasso, Jeffco Theatre Arts Coordinator

Sponsoring Units

Arts & Sciences, College of

  • Environmental Studies Program
  • Theatre and Dance, Department of
  • Research Institutes & Centers

    • University of Colorado Museum of Natural History

    Program Contact

    Beth Osnes
    Associate Professor of Theatre and Environmental Studies

Program Categories


  • Climate Change
  • Dance
  • Education (K-12)
  • STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)
  • Theatre

Program Types:

  • Classroom Instruction
  • Lesson Plans/Teaching Resources
  • Professional Development - Teacher


  • Students - Elementary School

We do our best to accurately represent CU Boulder’s outreach programs and services, but they are subject to change and may no longer be active in a community. Please contact the program directly for current information.