The field school component of the DIG is a four-day, hands-on introduction to paleontology and geology for K–12 educators. It takes place at the Hell Creek State Park near Jordan, MT—an area famous for preserving dinosaur fossils like Triceratops and Tyrannosaurus rex. The Hell Creek area is perhaps more renowned for its preservation of fossils from just before and just after the Cretaceous–Paleogene (K–Pg) mass extinction event, which occurred approximately 66 million years ago and marked the end of all non-avian dinosaurs. As a result, this area is an epicenter for paleontologists, geologists, and other scientists around the world. Moreover, it provides an excellent outdoor classroom for studying the evolution and ecology of fossil organisms, as well as many other biological and geological questions.
Teachers in the program learn about the basic scientific concepts and methods within the context of ongoing research in the area, and are full participants in all of the work we do—including collecting dinosaurs and other fossils! In addition to this immersive learning experience, participants have the opportunity to work alongside leading experts in paleontology and geology from a number of world-class institutions. Throughout the four days, teachers participate in activities that relate the science we do in the field and the lab back to the classroom, work together to design lesson plans aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards, and discuss the many different approaches to teaching science .
Each year, we accept approximately 30–35 teachers into the program, which typically takes place at the end of July (read here for more details on the application). We are authorized to offer continuing education credits through Washington State, Montana, and the University of Washington.
*New this year, we are introducing a $100 course fee to participate in the program. This course fee covers food, lodging, scientific equipment, and onsite transportation upon arrival. We don’t cover personal camping equipment (tent, sleeping bag, clothing, etc.) or fees associated with education credits (for example, if you want to receive credit through the University of Washington for attending, you will need to pay those fees yourself). We also currently aren’t able to pay for travel costs (e.g., plane tickets, car transportation, etc.), although we do provide transportation from the Billings International Airport to the Hell Creek State Park and back. If you have any additional questions, please see our FAQ or send us an email.