The thing about rocks and gems that is hard to fathom is just how old they can be. While rocks are still forming all the time, many of the rocks we casually pick up or gems we buy are millions, sometimes billions of years old! Rocks have and certainly will outlast us.
Amber is one of the few gems made of organic material (pearls are another). Amber is formed when tree resin hardens over time through heat and pressure. Like other stones, amber can preserve fossils. Since the resin is sticky, it easily traps small plants and insects and since it is translucent, it can display them in three dimensions. We made fake amber before but this time we decided to make the real thing…
Earlier this summer we had a severe thunder storm with lots of wind. There was even a tornado warning which luckily didn’t touch down. The next day we set out on a nature walk in the woods around a pond.
On our walk we found a few special things to add to our “time capsule”.
Then we came upon a mature pine tree with a broken branch. Trees secrete resin to protect breaks from insects and disease.
We placed our tiny collection on the mound of sticky resin and continued our walk.
We hope the lump of resin will eventually make its way deep underground where heat and pressure will cause it to harden and preserve our treasures.
Hopefully someday someone will find our amber and use it along with other geological evidence to form an idea of what life was like for us. If only we could also know what life will be like for them!
Learn more about how amber preserves the past and about other kinds of fossils in Aliki’s FOSSILS TELL OF LONG AGO (image is Amazon affiliate link).
The fossils in amber are often insects. Learn more about them in this book but make sure you have your reading glasses because like the bugs the text is tiny (image is Amazon affiliate link). More more bug book picks check out this post.
And watch as David Attenborough learns about the small creatures preserved in the impressive piece of amber he has had since childhood in THE AMBER TIME MACHINE included in the following DVD collection (image is Amazon affiliate link).
Scientists also reconstruct an ancient South American ecosystem with pieces of amber. Amber can tell a story. Why not tell a story of your own with these amber sun-catchers!
All you need are drawing materials, amber colored tissue or kite paper, scissors, and a glue stick. Draw, color, and cut out small natural objects, apply glue to the FRONT of the cutouts, and attach to stone shaped tissue or kite paper. If you draw plants and insects that exist today you will be creating futuristic amber like we did! Then hang them in your windows.
Has anyone seen Jurassic World? I was excited to see Jurassic Park when it came out but was a little disappointed because I found it to be light on the science. We are planning to see Jurassic World on DVD and hopefully it won’t be too scary!
Also in this series…