Advanced Fossil Preparation Methods


Due to the Covid19 pandemic, all of our 2020 in-person camps have been cancelled. We have transitioned to online-based summer camps with our instructional teams. To learn more, click here.

**Applicants must be 16-18 years old. Introductory Fossil Prep Methods must be completed before a student can participate in Advanced Fossil Prep Methods. This includes completing the 2020 session 1 of Intro Prep Methods, which is the week before this camp.**



This camp is designed to build on skills and concepts presented in Introduction to Fossil Preparation Methods camp. (Students must take session 1 of our Intro Fossil Prep camp in 2020, or have completed our Intro Fossil Prep camp in 2019, in order to be accepted to this camp.) Students will work on more advanced fossil care and cleaning procedures, including long-term storage practices used in museums around the world. We will also cover making molds and casts of fossils, which are crucial procedures to making fossils for display and education purposes. Perhaps most exciting, students will get the chance to practice their fossil preparation skills on large-jacket specimens, including large fossil fish and marine reptiles dug up right here in Kansas! 

Concepts and Skills

Learning to use the airscribe to prep fossils under magnification.

Here is an overview of the content students can expect over their two weeks at camp:

  • Prep lab safety 
  • Cradles and storage of fossils
  • Molding and casting fossils
  • Large-specimen procedures
  • Glues and adhesives
  • Micro-picks
  • Airscribes (tiny jackhammers for removing rock)
  • Preparation under microscope
  • Fossilization processes
  • College academics 
  • Leadership and teamwork
  • Career paths in paleontology

Conditions Summary

These categories are presented to help applicants determine if a program is a good match for their preferences. We have set up a separate page here outlining how to interpret each category, and how to interpret the respective scores.  

Physical exertion: 3
Academic pace: 8
Outdoor intensity: 3
Digital applications: 4
Art and graphics: 4
Writing: 7

Projected Number of Field Days: 2
Projected Number of Indoor/Lab Days: 11


Project Summary

Students will continue to grow their fossil preparation skills with the opportunity to work on large-jacket fossils, such as mosasaur and large fish material collected by our Field Paleontology: Kansas high school camp. Fossil material prepped by students during the camp will be incorporated into the Museum’s research and education collections.

Additional Information and Logistics

A fossil fish (Xiphactinus) skull being prepped under microscope.

Drop off is 8:00am on the first day at the Sternberg Museum of Natural History. Specifics on the drop-off location will be provided to admitted applicants.
Pick up is by 5:00pm on the last day, unless other specific arrangements are made well in advance with Camps staff. 

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 @SternbergCamps.

Application Requirements

  • All application materials must turned in by May 2, 2020. (See the Admission Decision Schedule tab below for our five application and admission periods from January to May.) 
  • Student applicants must be ages 16 to 18 as of June 2020.
  • The applicant must complete Introductory Fossil Preparation Methods before they may participate in this advanced program. Applicants may sign up for the first session of Intro Fossil Prep Methods (June 28 – July 3) and Advanced Fossil Prep Methods, as the intro camp will then be completed in before the advanced camp. 
  • Complete online application.
    • To do this, you will need to set up an account with CampDoc. You can do this by clicking the link above. Once this is done, you’ll be able to log back in to your account as you complete the application process.
    • If you already have an account with CampDoc, simply log in. Your personal information should all be saved from your last application.
    • The waiver can be found in the online application.
    • The financial aid application can be found in the online application.
  • 2 page (5-7 paragraph) letter of interest from the student applicant.
    • You can find suggestions for writing your letter of interest here.
    • This must be submitted through the CampDoc application system.
  • Letter of recommendation from the non-family member for the student applicant.
    • This must be submitted through the CampDoc application system.
    • You can find instructions for recommendation letter-writers here.
    • Returning students in good standing do not need to submit a recommendation letter.
      • Standing is determined by staff. A student not in good standing will be expressly notified by the Camps Director.

Admission Decision Schedule

We run on a rolling admission schedule from January to May. Each month, we will evaluate students with complete application files to determine admission and scholarship award decisions. If your student is denied admission to a camp, you will be specifically notified. Below we have listed evaluation period cutoff dates, and notification periods.

Please contact us at if you have any questions about this process. 

  • Application period 1
    • Cutoff: January 11
    • Admission notifications: January 20-24
  • Application period 2
    • Cutoff: February 15
    • Admission notifications: February 24-28
  • Application period 3
    • Cutoff: March 14
    • Admission notifications: March 23-27
  • Application period 4
    • Cutoff: April 11
    • Admission notifications: April 20-24
  • Application period 5
    • Cutoff: May 2
    • Admission notifications: May 4-8

Program Cost

Tuition is $1,795 for Sternberg Museum of Natural History or Dinosaur Ridge members, and $1,994 for non-members. Tuition includes food and lodging costs during the camp.

A 10% deposit is paid at the time of registration. Students who are accepted into the camp must then have the remainder of the registration fee paid by the May 16, 2020 payment deadline.

Q: What if my student is not accepted into the camp they applied for? Do you refund tuition?
A: 100% of paid tuition is refunded to any students not accepted to a camp they applied for. This includes the initial deposit paid at the time of initial application.

Q: What is your cancellation and refund policy?
Refund Policy:
Cancellations must be submitted in writing, via email or typed letter. Deposit fees for camp(s) applications are fully refundable until the applicant is officially accepted for admission. Prior to admission, the deposit is fully refundable in the case of cancellation submitted in writing. Denial of application acceptance will result in a full refund of the deposit payment for each camp the applicant was not accepted to. Following application acceptance, the deposit is no longer fully refundable, and each camp registration is held to a minimum 10-percent cancellation fee. For cancellations 30 to 10 days prior to the start of a camp, half of the total fee is refundable. For cancellations made 9 or fewer days prior to the start of the program, no amount of the fee is refundable. Registration fees are non-transferable between applicants or to accepted participants. Funds provided Sternberg Science Camps in the form of any financial scholarship to the participant will be withheld in any case where a scholarship awardee or their parent(s)/guardian(s) cancels an accepted application.

Cancellation Policy:
In the event of a trip being cancelled, either due to insufficient enrollment, sudden onset of extensively unsafe travel conditions, or other unforeseeable impairments, the Sternberg Science Camps will provide a refund of all tuition and/or deposit fees paid up to the point of cancellation. Any scholarship funds awarded to the applicant to aid in attendance will be retained by the Sternberg Science Camps program. We are unable to reimburse the cost of any travel expenses paid to transport successful applicants to and/or from their camp(s). We strongly recommend attendees insure their travel to and from their respective camp(s) being attended.


For answers to more possible questions, see our Frequently Asked Questions page!


Contact Us

For questions about the Sternberg Science Camps programs, contact us at or 785-639-5249.

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