Stones and Bones

Stones and Bones students in the field.

Paleontology Program for High School Students

Join the Field Museum’s Distinguished Service Curator Lance Grande for a four-week intensive practicum in paleontology in Chicago and Wyoming. Go into the field and behind the scenes at the Field Museum to learn how fossils are collected, analyzed, and conserved, as you work alongside museum scientists in the lab and in the field.

In Chicago, Dr. Grande and other Field Museum scientists will take you into the labs and galleries where they work and study as they introduce you to important concepts in geology, paleontological method, stratigraphy, and earth history. You will also learn about basic techniques for the study of evolutionary biology including comparative skeletal anatomy of fishes and other freshwater animals. You will examine methodological concepts such as fossil preparation, illustration, and description. In this way, you will acquire the fundamental scientific background needed to discover and understand the significance of fossils in the field.

In Wyoming, experience what life in the field is all about when you join the ongoing Field Museum expedition in the Green River Formation. This site is one of the world's most productive fossil sites and contains an entire 52 million-year-old community of extinct organisms. Previous expeditions to the Green River Formation have led Grande and his team to uncover thousands of fossils, including plants, insects, mammals, crocodiles, birds, lizards, turtles, and fishes, many of which are currently on display at the museum. Spend your mornings and late afternoon digging for fossils from the Cenozoic Period and interpret them in a way that allows you to incorporate fossils into studies of living animals and plants. In the early afternoon and evenings, you can go into town for provisions, help prepare meals for your fellow diggers, and sit around the campfire with the museum's researchers and their families. When you return to Chicago, you will conserve, catalog, and analyze your new discoveries in the museum's preparation labs, using the same techniques and equipment that the museum's own staff uses.

The Field Museum is considered one of the finest natural history museums in the world, with top-notch collections as well as a strong research team. The museum exhibits a wide range of prehistoric life, from dinosaurs like the famous T.Rex., "Sue," to early mammals, birds, and fish. It is one of the few museums in the world to maintain regular fossil-hunting expeditions in search of prehistoric remains. Stones and Bones gives you a unique opportunity to participate in the paleontological study carried out by the museum.

high school student looking through microscope during UChicago’s Stones and Bones paleontology program

“This program offers a really valuable opportunity to students who are interested in paleontology. In usual summer sessions, students are just taught in the classroom, but we had plenty of chances of taking part in real field work and this kind of experience cannot be acquired through usual courses.”

Jiaron Q.
Shaoxing No. 1 High School
Shaoxing, China


Course Details

Course Code: BIOS 10004 and 10005
Session: I
Dates: Orientation June 17-18; classes meet June 19 to July 14, 2017; MTWRF daily schedule varies
- Classes (in Chicago): June 19-25, 2017 & July 8-14, 2017
- Field Work (in Wyoming): June 26 - July 7, 2017
Instructor: Lance Grande

  • Students must live on campus when not in Wyoming. In Wyoming, students will camp in tents at the excavation site.
  • Participants in this course will encounter strenuous field conditions in Wyoming, including camping in tents, traversing rugged terrain, and excavating in extreme heat during the day as well as sleeping in colder temperatures at night. Please read the Field Conditions Description and Packing List.

Tuition & Fees


$7,595 (2 course program)

Student Life Fee (one time fee)

Housing & Dining and Field School Expenses

  • Room and board in Chicago and Wyoming (exception: students must bring their own tents an dsleeping bags for the field school portion)
  • Transportation between Chicago and Wyoming
  • Equipment and supplies not specified on packing list

* Estimate; final cost for 2017 to be determined.

** Students who cannot prove that they have adequate health care coverage in the U.S. must enroll in the University Student Health Insurance plan (USHIP), and will be billed accordingly.

Scholarships are available for this program; see the Tuition, Scholarship, & Billing page for details.

Student Health Insurance
$272 for this 4-week program


  • This program is open to high school students, 14 and older, who will be sophomores, juniors, or seniors during the 2017-2018 academic year.
  • Applications accepted for rolling admissions beginning mid-November 17, 2016.
  • Courses fill quickly, so please submit your completed application as soon as possible.
  • International students must submit all application materials before April 10, 2017.
  • US students must submit all application materials by April 17, 2017.
  • The online application and all supplementary materials must be received by the final deadline. Applications completed after this time will not be considered.
  • Review Application Overview pages for detailed information.

You can also review the Apply and FAQ pages for detailed information.

Contact Us


1427 E 60th Street
Second Floor
Chicago, IL


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