What a summer! We are excited to announce the 2015 DIG was a complete success! From July 30th to August 3rd at the Hell Creek State Park near Jordan, Montana, DIG teachers had the chance to participate in active fieldwork, lead research activities, and run discussions on how to best bring science into their classrooms. We were lucky to have a wonderful group of participants and instructors who helped make this year's DIG the best yet. Here's what two of the teachers had to say about their experience:
"Honestly, I enjoyed every single minute of the experience - so much! I will be a better teacher for being your student. I am grateful for the opportunity to learn content in the field. The intangibles are perhaps what make the DIG program most valuable for me. Everyday is a reminder about the excitement of discovery, getting to feel smart by learning and applying something new, the importance of having gracious time to process ideas and to make mistakes, and the social endeavor that is science - from all the people who support the DIG both during the program and behind the scenes. It's a reminder that these are things that should happen in our classrooms every day." - Mary, grades 9-12, Lynnwood, WA
"I found that spending time with scientists and researchers in the field, getting to ask them questions, learning about their methods, and assisting in real scientific research helps me as a science teacher see the big picture and communicate it to my students." - Beth, grades 6-8, Seattle, WA
In addition to the DIG, Wilson lab researchers spent 8 weeks in the field finding dinosaurs, mammals, crocodiles, and tons of other fossils. Stay tuned for pictures of these specimens on our Facebook page! And in other research news, Wilson lab graduate student/DIG instructor Alex Brannick and her former advisors recently had a paper on Dire wolves accepted for publication in the Contributions in Science Series by the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County!
With the sixth year of the DIG now officially over, we've already started to think of ideas for expanding the program and making it even better next year. In addition to revamping our website and the DIG boxes, we plan to continue our fossil sorting parties and develop new ways to bring the DIG into classrooms. Interested in helping us reach more students and teachers? Email us at email@example.com!
The DIG Team
2015 DIG Field School Highlights
The 2015 DIG Field School was our biggest yet, with 33 teachers from 14 different states in attendance. These teachers represented a wide geographic range across the country, including the northwest, southwest, midwest, and east coast. Among the 33 participants, there were seven elementary school teachers, 13 middle school teachers, and 13 high school teachers.This year’s staff included a diverse group of graduate students, undergraduates, and postbaccalaureates from the University of Washington, University of California (Berkeley, Santa Cruz, Los Angeles), and the University of Chicago.
The teachers got to spend four days with our team at the Hell Creek State Park in northeastern Montana, where they learned about our ongoing research, the significance of the area to the paleontological community, and how the science we do relates to the curriculum they cover in their classrooms. Moreover, the teachers had the chance to actually collect fossils themselves (including dinosaurs, mammals, other vertebrates, plants, and ammonites), learn the techniques we use, and discuss new ways to introduce the material to their students. Days were filled with research experiences and evenings included wiffle ball, trivia, and a Jurassic Park viewing party. We’ve already started to receive fantastic feedback from the teachers, and many plan to continue their involvement with the DIG. See below for some photos from the 2015 DIG, and check out our Facebook for even more!
Another Field Season Behind Us
Wilson lab members and colleagues spent 8 weeks prospecting for and collecting fossils from areas all over Garfield and McCone counties in northeastern Montana. Our days included plenty of hiking and exploration, specimen jacketing, sediment collection, and much more. Among many other exciting fossils, we excavated an enormous adult Triceratops as well as a juvenile, found tons of mammal teeth, recovered a large crocodile skull, and unearthed large bone blocks of rare and peculiar ancient fish. We can't wait to get back out there next year and find even more!
Additional Research Updates
We're excited to report second year Wilson lab graduate student and DIG instructor Alex Brannick recently had her paper on Dire wolves (Canis dirus) from the Rancho La Brea tar pits accepted for publication! Along with her previous advisors Julie Meachen and Robin O'Keefe (Des Moines University and Marshall University), Alex analyzed Dire wolf hemimandible shape and size through time using specimens aged approximately 13,000 to 28,000 years old. Their analyses indicated that hemimandible shape and size indeed changed through time, and provided evidence that these changes may be correlated with changes in climate. Additionally, the researchers were able to distinguish morphological differences in hemimandibles between males and females. The paper is scheduled to be available on September 22nd and can be found hereafter that date. Congratulations Alex!
Want to stay involved with the DIG? This year we plan to expand our website, fossil sorting parties, and DIG boxes. We'll announce the planned dates for our sorting parties as well as more information about the website and DIG boxes, so stay tuned and feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!