Paleontology Expedition

BySternberg Museum

Paleontology Expedition

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  • Fossil identification and collection training.
  • Essential camping and outdoor safety skills.
  • High school-level earth and life science academic content.
  • Students work with professional scientists and educators in field settings.
  • Hands-on, inquiry and place-based education focus.


Come explore the fossils of Kansas! Sharks, ammonites, giant clams, ancient sea turtles, fossilized ferns, and giant mosasaurs are only the beginning of the incredible diversity of fossil organisms found here. In this camp, students will be introduced to paleontology field work done right. Using professional field equipment, we will prospect for surface fossils, document sites, and learn how to correctly and safely collect fossil material. Along the way, students will learn how to identify fossil material, and be introduced to the basics of sedimentary geology. We also emphasize field safety skills, training students how to work safely in the hot, dry environments fossils are frequently found. Discussion and building critical thinking skills are also emphasized as we learn about the geologic record, and explore the evidence for evolution we find preserved in the rocks!

Program Cost

Tuition is $625 per member, and $700 per non-member.

Additional Information and Logistics

Drop off is 8:00am on the first day. Pick up is by 5:00pm on the last day.

Please see Frequently Asked Questions for information about attending the camps for out of state students.

You can follow along with our camp programs on Twitter and Instagram at @SternbergMuseum.

Contact Us

For questions about the Sternberg Science Camps programs, contact Education Director David Levering at, or 785-639-5249.

Application Requirements

All application materials must turned in no later than May 1st, 2018.
– Student applicants must be ages 11 to 13 as of June 2018.

– 1 page (2-3 paragraph) letter of interest from the student applicant.
– Letter of recommendation from the non-family member for the student applicant.
– Financial aid application paperwork (if applying for financial assistance).
– Complete online registration.
– Submit correctly filled out, signed waiver and release form.

Next Generation Science Standards

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are a national collaborative set of benchmarks for science education in the United States. Here, we have listed parts of the NGSS subject contents that are included in this camp program.

Earth and Human Activity

From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
MS-LS1-4      MS-LS1-5      MS-LS1-6

Earth’s Place in the Universe

Earth’s Systems
MS-ESS2-2       MS-ESS2-3

Gathering new data is essential to any field of science. In paleontology, this means collecting new, scientifically valuable fossil specimens in the field. Like any form of data collection, there are professional best practices that must be followed. Students are guided through these techniques and protocols, with lots of practice and feedback as we hunt for fossil clams, sharks, and giant ocean reptiles.

Understanding how to read the layers of rock fossils are found in is essential for field paleontology. Students are introduced to the basics of sedimentology in the context of understanding the fossil record, including the different rock layers we work in, how they were formed, and why they look the way they do today. 

Knowing some basics of camping is essential to field work. Scientific field work is often done in remote or semi-remote locations, making camping skills necessary to being able to do field work at all!

Training includes:
– Putting up tents
– Camp cooking
– Setting up and breaking down camp
– Leave No Trace strategies
– Efficiently loading and unloading field vehicles
– Environmental injury and illness mitigation
– Building and safely managing a campfire

From staying hydrated to dealing with bad weather, students are introduced to the hazards of field work and how to effectively, safely deal with them. Staff provide lessons on safety through discussion, making sure students have a clear understanding of problems that can arise and how to effectively avoid them, or mitigate their effects afterwards.

A majority of our field lessons and fossil hunting will require 2-4 hour hikes through the rocky badlands, with a lot of heat and bright sun. In order to stay safe and healthy, students will receive instruction on properly packing their backpack, optimal attire, hydration, footwear, use of sunscreen, self-awareness and group safety. Weather is typically hot during the day, and cooler at night. Preparation is key, and we will make sure your student has the information to be prepared.

Taking initiative, staying organized, and effectively communicating are all important skills for working with a team in the field. Over the course of the program, students are coached on developing these areas. With guided opportunities to lead portions of field work, students are encouraged to develop their voices, organize team efforts, and build confidence in their abilities.