Welcome to the Land Before Time!
The Dinosaur Academy is a 5 1/2 day course designed to allow an in depth study of paleontology. The program is hands-on including field exploration, excavation and laboratory techniques.
The course will provide a basic knowledge emphasizing the following: environmental deposition, mapping, excavation, identification and skeletal structure, preparation, preservation, collection management and presentation of fossil specimens.
Student activities and learning experiences are arranged to take the fossil specimen from the point of discovery in the field through all the processes necessary for final museum display for scientific study, education and research.
Each day will focus on a different aspect of paleontology, with the use of hands on activities and field trips. Groups will be split up according to age and be given activities that are age appropriate.
DAY 1: The day will begin with a museum and dig site tour of the dinosaur center. After the tours, we will begin excavation in one of the dig sites on the Warm Springs Ranch. Proper excavation techniques will be given and we will work until lunch. At noon, we will break for lunch, and then visit the Phosphoria Formation at Anchor Dam. It will take approximately one hour to reach this site. Exposed here is an ancient reef system, and collection of invertebrate fossils is allowed. All participants will be able to keep the fossils they find.
DAY 2: Begins with working in one of the dig sites until lunch. After lunch, we will split the children into groups of three and do rotations of the preparation lab and geological activities. These activities include: Topography Mapping, Mineral Identification, Explaining the Rock Cycle, Relative and Absolute Dating, Faults and Mapping of Dinosaur Bones. These geological processes are essential in understanding the science of paleontology.
DAY 3: This day will be spent at one of the dig sites. We will work in the quarry until late afternoon, where we will then visit the Sundance Sea Formation and collect fossil invertebrates that once lived in an ancient seaway. Participants will be able to keep any invertebrate fossils they find at this site.
DAY 4: We will work again excavating fossils at one of the dig sites. After lunch, we will take a tour of the Wind River Canyon, which is south of Thermopolis. Once the tour concludes, we will then drive to the Cody Shale and collect ammonite and baculite fossils. These are invertebrate cephalopods that lived during the Cretaceous Period. All fossils that are found by the participants, will be allowed to be kept.
DAY 5: Continue excavation in one of the dig sites on the Warm Springs Ranch. After lunch, we will split the participants into three groups. We will then rotate between the following activities: Preparation lab, Scavenger Hunt, Microfossil Identification, Molding and Casting, Scientific Illustration, Making a Geologic Timeline, Measuring Dinosaur Tracks.
DAY 6: Question and answer session followed by issuing Certificates to all the participants. We will also have a question and answer session.
Throughout the program, there will be many different activities that we will engage in, below are a few examples.
●Micro Fossil Identification
●Geological Timeline Activity
●Dinosaur Track – Footrace Activity
●Molding and Casting
●Understanding the Rock Cycle
●Relative and Absolute Dating
●Radial Mapping in the Quarry
●Picture Frame Craft