Alex Roth, 10, of Adamstown describes his teacher as a “fossil freak.”
Jeff Esko’s fifth-grade students say that, on most days, their Advanced Academics class at Urbana Elementary School includes at least a mention of fossils.
The walls of Esko’s portable classroom also are lined with posters about fossils, and a fossil wall that he and his students created more than 10 years ago still stands on campus.
And Esko, who has taught at Urbana Elementary for 22 years, keeps many fossils and casts of fossils in his classroom.
On Tuesday, the students got a chance to create their own models of fossils, using materials used by oral surgeons to create molds of teeth.
Dr. Mark S. Hoffrichter, an oral surgeon in Frederick and father to Adam, 10, who is one of Esko’s students, brought in the supplies and led the students through the activity.
Students began by adding water to a powder mixture to create a type of putty. Then, they pressed their fossils into the gooey mixture.
Chris Wagner, 10, of Urbana was using a shark tooth, while Adam of Adamstown used a shell that was about 3 inches long.
Once the impressions was made, Hoffrichter and his employee, Rachael Leahy, helped the students fill them with a liquid that would be used to make the casts of their fossils.
“This is so cool,” Adam said.
Another student said she was going to make a picture of her fossil for her computer “screensaver,” while several other students said they wanted to make their casts into magnets.
Esko said the lesson, which he usually conducts using plaster, helps teach students lessons in science, technology, engineering and math.
“It’s really a STEM activity,” he said, noting that the project-based lesson was better than learning from a book.
Esko said the students were excited to make their own casts after learning during a trip to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., last December that 90 percent of the fossils there are casts.