2018 Bighorn Basin Educator Workshop

The Bighorn Basin Teacher Workshop is a one week course in introductory field geology and paleontology with special emphasis on a portion of the Mesozoic and early Cenozoic era sedimentary rock and fossil deposits of the Bighorn Basin in Wyoming and Montana. Through daily field excursions and evening classroom sessions, students will be introduced to and employ various modern field techniques used by geologists and paleontologists to study the depositional and structural history of the region, paleoenvironmental change through time, and discover first-hand the fossils that characterize the fauna and flora of these time periods. At geological sites we will investigate faults, identify and characterize rocks, and learn how to use tools (compass, hand lens, GPS) to collect detailed data. We will combine our observations and datasets to interpret the geologic history of a portion of the Bighorn Basin. At paleontological sites we will explain and demonstrate the methods and processes involved in a paleontological expedition. Participants will then participate in a hands on excavation, prospecting for, discovering, and identifying fossilized remains of plants and animals on the ground surface. In this course, students will experience and participate in the entire scientific process and will be fully-involved team members in collecting and processing geological and paleontological data. A summative project will pair current teachers (in-service) with teachers in training (pre-service) and together they will be tasked with developing the framework for a standard-aligned, K-12 module or lesson plan that utilizes or translates concepts from the course.

Workshop instruction days – Monday, August 6th – Friday, August 10th, 2018
(arriving on Sunday, August 5th – departing on Saturday, August 11th, 2018)

Eligible Attendees
This workshop will support up to 16 in-service teachers from anywhere in the state of Pennsylvania.

We will be staying at the Yellowstone Bighorn Research Association (YBRA), a non-profit field station that regularly hosts summer geoscience field courses (including PSU) and various summer institutes, courses, and conferences. YBRA is located just outside of Red Lodge, Montana (and about 1 hour 20 minutes from Billings) in a superb geologic setting along the western margin of the Bighorn Basin. During the course we will be visiting geology and paleontological sites within a ~1 hour drive from YBRA.

Click here to see a detailed schedule of events for the workshop

Travel Information
Additional information and specifics on traveling to and from YBRA.

What to bring
Specifics on what items to bring and what will be provided.

Visit this page to see photos of the YBRA field station, and geology and paleontology sites that we will visit.

Course Syllabus [PDF]

Act 48 Credits
– Educators will receive Act 48 Credits through Penn State University. Upon acceptance we will send you and email guiding you through the registration process to receive the credits.

– Course registration fees: $300

– Housing (6 nights; August 5th – 10th) and all meals from Sunday afternoon (August 5th) through Saturday afternoon (August 11th) are included at no cost.

– Travel Reimbursement: Acceptance into this workshop guarantees you a scholarship to help cover the cost to travel to Billings. We will provide up to $600 for those flying from State College, PA and up to $400 for those flying from Pittsburgh or Philadelphia. Please contacts us for reimbursements costs from other locations.

-Transportation to/from the airport (on travel days), and all travel during the week is provided at no cost.

To apply click on the Application tab at the top of the web page. For full consideration, please complete the form by April 20th, 2018. You should hear back from us by mid-May.
*The Application window for 2018 has closed. Please check back next year*


Please contact Dr. Erin DiMaggio
email: dimaggio@psu.edu
office: 814.865.7390


credit: R. DiBiase

Erin DiMaggio is a geologist who studies sedimentary rocks and volcanic deposits in Ethiopia to learn about continental rifting processes, and the timing and geologic setting of early human evolution. She is a research associate in the Department of Geosciences at Penn State, and teaches various courses including a portion of the capstone geosciences field school in the Bighorn Basin. She is also the new opportunities program manager for the Pennsylvania Space Grant Consortium. Erin has a BS in geology from the University of Michigan, and a MS and PhD in geology from Arizona State University.


credit: B. Malinowski

Jason Schein is a writer, naturalist, explorer, educator, and a paleontologist. He is the Founding and Executive Director of the Bighorn Basin Paleontological Institute [BBPI]. He also serves as a researcher and educator within the organization. Jason’s research interests include Mesozoic vertebrate marine and terrestrial faunas and ecosystems, paleoecology, paleobiogeography, taphonomy, biostratigraphy, functional morphology, sedimentology, and general natural history. He has conducted paleontological field work in the southeastern U.S., Montana, Wyoming, and North & South Dakota, as well as Patagonian Argentina. Jason has a BS and MS in geology from Auburn.


credit: B. Malinowski

Rick Schmidt studied education and geoscience at Penn State University, and eventually earned an Ed.D. from Drexel University. He has excelled in his career, becoming a nationally renowned innovator and leader in the field of geoscience education. He has been teaching geosciences in the Upper Dublin School District in suburban Philadelphia for 25 years, and has been a leader within the Bighorn Basin Paleontological Institute’s field teams since 2013. Rick is currently the Director of Educational Programming for the BBPI and is actively engaged in the ongoing work between the group and higher education institutions.

NASA Pennsylvania Space Grant Consortium PSU Department of Geosciences Bighorn Basin Paleontological Institute Yellowstone Bighorn Research Association
Print Friendly, PDF & Email