Science Experiment 5: Faking Fossils

By AG Education August 9, 2016
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There’s a hidden cache of fossils waiting to be discovered in your own house!

National Science Week (13 -21 Aug) is here again, and the team at Australian Geographic are really excited! We’ll be getting along to some of the events at the Australian Museum and Powerhouse, though there are events on all around the country.

To celebrate, we’re putting up a different science experiment every day! You can try these at school or at home, and they’ll help you learn more about space, volcanoes and heaps more. Have fun!

Faking Fossils

Fossils are the last remains of an animal or plant that died a long time ago. Bones, or the shape of an animal or plant can be preserved when layers of rock form around them. The organic matter, like bones and hair, often breaks down and disappears – but the shape remains. Ancient bones and dinosaur skeletons are one type of fossil that is often found – and today we’ll make our own!


  • 1 cup used coffee grounds
  • ½ cup cold coffee
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • ½ cup salt
  • Mixing bowl
  • Wax paper
  • Objects with which to make ‘fossils’ (good items include small animal figurines, shells, strong leaves)


  1. Mix all of the ingredients together in the bowl, and knead together until the dough is soft.
  2. Spread the dough out onto wax paper and cut round shapes using a cookie cutter or an upside-down glass.
  3. Press objects into the soft dough to make ‘fossil impressions’. Press down on them for thirty seconds and then remove them.
  4. Leave the dough overnight to harden. In the morning you’ll be able to examine your ‘fossils’! Try doing this with a friend – can you tell what their ‘fossils’ are of?

More experiments to try at home: