Project Exploration offers mammoth-scale summer learning experience

Project Exploration is deploying Chicago Public School students into Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota this summer to conduct field studies alongside working scientists.

"People are trying to figure out how to get kids engaged in science in a way that's really going to last, especially minority youth and girls or students who struggle in school. This is a bigger education issue nationally than it was even when we started Project Exploration," said Gabrielle Lyon, who co-founded the organization with University of Chicago paleontologist Paul Sereno in 1999. "There are a lot of one-shot science programs, but all our kids will keep working with us until they graduate high school. We're working to literally change the face of science."

The following four PE summer programs begin with a week-long classroom laboratory component on a college campus thanks to a special partnership with the University of Chicago, include a week of fieldwork and conclude with a culminating session at the end of the field season. Students continue to work with Project Exploration during the school year:

  • The Best Science Program Ever, Montana, June 15-29: Based at eastern Montana's Lost-in-Time Ranch, three CPS high school students work in the field under Sereno's and Lyon's supervision.
  • All Girls Expedition, Yellowstone National Park, Wyo., July 6-17: Middle school and high school girls will do fieldwork on the water chemistry of geysers, track coyotes and explore a cave with Project Exploration and Yellowstone researchers.
  • Junior Paleontologists, Hot Springs, S.D., July 20-Aug. 7: A dozen middle school and high school students will join paleontologist Larry Agenbroad, Professor Emeritus of Northern Arizona University, for a week of fieldwork at the Mammoth Site.
  • Science Teacher Field Institute, eastern Montana, July 13-31: CPS teachers live the life of a field scientist with Paul Sereno while developing their inquiry and science-teaching skills.

Sereno and Lyon are available for interviews about these activities, as are their program participants.

Project Exploration's blog:



Project Exploration All Girls Expedition team member Jasmine uses a spotting scope to locate a gray wolf in the distance at Yellowstone National Park last summer.

Photo by M.E. Perez, Project Exploration

Project Exploration Junior Paleontologists rinse sediment from a bone bed in South Dakota last summer, searching through it for any small pieces of bone they may have missed while excavating fossils.

Photo by C. Gustafson/Project Exploration

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