Paleo-School - Students Experiencing their Childhood Dream

Gasconade County School District (with DeSoto Schools - Missouri)
Columbia, Missouri
Open Access
Raised of $9,744 Goal
Ended on 6/11/15
Campaign Ended
  • $44
  • 1%
  • Finished
    on 6/11/15

About This Project

Paleo-School is a one week trip that takes students from high school to the Badlands of Montana to excavate for dinosaur fossils. These students will then have a chance to bring back educational fossils to prepare, and teach their peers proper preservation and preparation techniques as well.

Ask the Scientists

Join The Discussion

What is the context of this research?

During the Summer of 2014, six students from two school districts (Gasconade County, Missouri) took the hike to the Badlands of Montana, prospected and uncovered multiple fossils, including ones from a Triceratops, a Hadrosaur, and many micro-fossils.During this summer expedition, students received the hands-on experience of traveling through the badlands with an education in topography, GPS tracking and marking, and orienteering. Students were then taught how to identify a fossil, to excavate it properly, and to field dress it, if required. Students had, at their disposal, experienced field educators, a university paleontologist, and State Land Management and Natural resource workers, all week no matter where they were at.

What is the significance of this project?

This project's value is enhanced by the experience that the students and educators create for other students, young and old.

With this project, the students of Paleo-School will bring back the fossils to their schools. They will then prepare the fossils, all while teaching peers how to prepare fossils in a lab environment. These students will create molds and casts of their fossils that were uncovered, whether in pieces or not, and take those exhibits to younger students and teach students the art of piecing together a fossil. A traveling "Fossil Kit' (large structure with dirt, concrete, sand, etc.) will also be constructed to place those models in so that younger students can live the experience of unearthing dinosaur fossils, all while learning the proper field techniques.

What are the goals of the project?

  • Establish a mentor-student relationship with former paleo-school students so they can gain leadership experiences in a field of study and to lead in collaborative groups/team setting.
  • Have the Paleo-School students help younger students (elementary and Middle School) create models of fossils found.
  • Students build an excavation site simulator that can travel to various locations. This Simulator resembles the very same conditions that the fossils were found in.
  • Create an extended educational class (after school, or before school) and have students work after school every week preparing fossils and displaying them.
  • Using all techniques which include journaling, art, excavation, and presentation, our goal is to have integrated ALL core subjects in paleontology and non-core subjects as well.


Please wait...

Finding dinosaur fossils is a thrill of a lifetime, but in order to do that, we need the proper supplies to not only survive and thrive in the field, but to help the specimens survive as well. This includes the vehicles to make it through the field for the students and guides, and to bring the fossils back in a preserved state. With the funding we can then bring the discovered specimens back to the educational setting (schools) for younger students to enjoy and learn from.

Meet the Team

Kevin Lay
Kevin Lay
Mary-Beth Sapper
Mary-Beth Sapper
Ron Giesler
Ron Giesler

Team Bio

Kevin Lay - A teacher at Owensville High School for 10 years, Kevin has been teaching young men and women science with a hands-on approach, and yes, this does sometimes include explosions and fire. Kevin applies physics concepts to nearly everything that he works with and has a passion for how the sciences are applied to make students in high school college and career ready. He considers it a blessing to be in a school where administrators support him fully in his teaching. Kevin has lived out his childhood dream of finding dinosaur fossils in the badlands - even being able to name one (after his amazing daughter, Kendra).

Mary-Beth Sapper - Mary-Beth has been a teacher for 22 years . As a graduate from Central Methodist and with a masters from Webster University, her genuine passion for geology and earth science is shared with her students nearly every day in the classroom. Mary-Beth has been privileged to travel to the badlands for the last few years, and was recipient of a scholarship for the Science Teacher's Academy at the Smithsonian Institute. She has uncovered some very impressive fossils, including one named after her granddaughter, Rylie. She donates time at the St. Louis Science Center to educate kids. She teaches her students that knowing science is not enough - you have to understand it by asking "why." She's a teacher not afraid to push the boundaries of education when it comes to her students and loves to witness their success and rise in confidence

Kevin Lay

Dinosaurs were a passion of mine ever since I can remember walking and talking. Unfortunately, that passion slowly deteriorates as time goes by, with the realization that you may never live out your dream of hunting fossils - ever.

I teach high school science in a rural community, and I have made it a goal of mine to make sure that those childhood dreams can become a reality. And that experiences that were once thought of to only exist in movies, or for privileged youth, can be available to ANY student that shares that same passion that I had a child, and still have today.

While I love paleontology, I also get excited for the physics that I teach alongside earth science. My two wonderful children (daughter -8 and son - 3) and wife support me in this "infatuation" that I have and have often shared in the experiences of the fossils being brought back to Owensville. And while teaching science for over ten years has given me a reason to get up every morning excited about my profession, I still find time to try and enjoy the smaller things in life - like a great hamburger, or fantastic local food. I have also found time to settle down and go on a leisurely hike through the Denali Mountains, the Grand Canyon, and Mt. Rainer.

Lab Notes

Nothing posted yet.

Additional Information

Well Hello there! This is Kevin Lay (left) and Mary-Beth. We are ready to take students on a trip of lifetime! (Yes, Mary-Beth always carries fossils with her - wherever she goes)

Classroom learning? Um, yea - we use canvas chairs and real field experts as our teachers. This is how we "wind-down" in the evening.

Sweet! Dirt? Let's dig! Seriously though, this was a rare find in which we believe it could have been a portion of the K-T boundary.

So to get around, we make sure our Garmin is on... oh wait, it doesn't work when you're miles away from what the Garmin would consider a "road."

A Hadrosaur spine and other portions [Before]

A Hadrosaur spine [After] ready to ship to the Lab for research

Students are educated by a professional artist (shown here), because it's not just about the science, or digging. It's about an experience that people can see, and view. Artists add depth and contrast to something that a picture simply cannot capture.

One of the best days, ever!

Project Backers

  • 3Backers
  • 1%Funded
  • $44Total Donations
  • $14.67Average Donation
Please wait...