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The 2018 DIG Field School Partnering with teachers to inspire students with real science in the classroom

This past summer, 26 teachers from 11 states across the country joined our fieldwork team for four days of research and education in the Hell Creek area near Jordan, Montana.

The participants included a mix of elementary, middle, and high school educators from a diverse set of backgrounds. Upon arrival, the teachers immediately jumped into the role of researchers, collecting and interpreting paleontological and geological data alongside experts in the field. Working with professors, graduate students, and undergraduate students from the University of Washington and other institutions, participants logged stratigraphic sections, collected samples of fossil-rich sediment, excavated dinosaur skeletons, and reconstructed the ecological history of the area.

In addition to the above activities, participants had the chance to traverse rugged Montana landscapes, meet some of the local ranchers, and experience what it's really like to stay in a remote field camp, all while expanding their geoscience content knowledge and understanding of the scientific process.

Here's what a few teachers had to say about their experience:

“One of the best professional learning experiences I could ask for. It shattered many misconceptions I had about the nature of ‘doing science’ and will make me a better science teacher.”

“The number one thing I plan on taking back is telling my students about what doing science is actually like in the field. I [want to] teach them that there is a wide range of ways to be a scientist. It does not always involve being inside wearing a lab coat.”

We say this every year, but this was easily one of the best groups of teachers yet. Take a look through this photo journal of the 2018 DIG Field School to relive the adventure!

Photo credits: Garry Norman

View of the northeastern Montana landscape and outcrops of the Hell Creek Formation.

Teachers arrive in camp for orientation.

Welcome speech by DIG founder and director Dr. Greg Wilson.

DIG team introductions and camp orientation.

First evening activities: GPS scavenger hunt around camp and research lightning talks by DIG staff.

Day 1: Introduction to paleontological research, local geology, and vertebrate microfossil collecting.

DIG participants surface collecting vertebrate microfossils.

Collecting sediment samples and describing the geology of the site.

Day 2: Excavating and collecting macrofossils.

DIG participants mapping the quarry learning how to collect dinosaurs.

Measuring section in the Hell Creek Formation.

Preparing to excavate jacketed fossils.

Day 3: Onsite lecture at the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary and teacher group projects.

Teachers present on their group projects back in camp.

Day 4: STEM education workshop and graduation ceremony.

A lesson in the Next Generation Science Standards and using the DIG in the classroom.
Sorting and identifying vertebrate microfossils.
Cast of a Tyrannosaurus rex tooth (human arm for scale).
2018 DIG graduation ceremony.
The 2018 DIG Field School

Credits:

Garry Norman

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