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 methods, 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. Through this, you will acquire the fundamental scientific background needed to discover and understand the significance of fossils in the field.
In Wyoming, you will 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 and 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.
“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
Study basic geology (including rocks and minerals, stratigraphy, earth history, and mapping skills), evolutionary biology (including comparative skeletal anatomy of fishes and other freshwater animals, large-scale evolutionary patterns of these animals, and how the 50-million-year-old ecosystem of the Fossil Lake Range was established and functioned), and methods of specimen-based research. This course provides the fundamental scientific background needed to discover and understand the meaning of fossils as they are preserved, and gives students the opportunity to gain actual field experience. Students go “behind the scenes” at the Field Museum to examine previously collected fossils and learn how to prepare, conserve, and analyze specimens. The textbook-Grande, L. 2013. The Lost World of Fossil Lake: Snapshots from Deep Time. University of Chicago Press, 440 pp., is available on Amazon.
Eligibility: Current high school freshmen, sophomores, and juniors, who are at least 14 years old. Classes in high school biology or geology is recommended with a grade of B or better.