Paleo Expedition 2010 Blog
Hi everyone! We had a full first day, getting to know each other and getting to know what paleontology is all about. Dr. Nick Czaplewski gave us an up-close look at some amazing fossils and bones from the vertebrate paleontology collection here at the museum. After dinner, we got settled in our rooms and played a crazy game of Cranium before heading to bed. We’re hoping to have time for everyone to write their first blog Thursday night, so check back! – Jes
Hi everyone! We spent today learning to work as a team on the High and Low Ropes Course at OU. We then listened to Dr. Steve Westrop tell us all about his collection, Invertebrate Paleontology. He even took us up to the collection and we got to see some amazing fossils that the public rarely sees. We’ll be going with him to a field site this weekend to look at some invertebrate fossils in Oklahoma, it should be really neat! On Friday, we’re off to the Wichita Mountains and Arbuckle Mountains to look at the geology of the region and also to do our first fossil collecting. Internet might be spotty, so our next check-in will probably be Monday. Be sure to check out the “Team Members Blog” to see what your child had to say about their first two days. We’re hoping to have some pictures up by the time we return from our camping trip this weekend. – Jes
Anna: Today was crazy fun! We woke up bright and early and headed out to the ropes course. At the beginning we just played small games and activities to get to know each other better. We needed to get to know each other better and gain each other’s trust so that when it was time for the big stuff there would be no worries! Everyone participated and we all had fun. Almost every time we had a break we would circle up and play ninja! Haha! We get really in to it! Finally came time for the big ropes course. Being up so high was really nerve racking, I was shaking like a leaf! But after being up there for a while it gets a little more relaxed. It also helps that everyone else is encouraging you and constantly letting you know they’re there! The best part of the ropes course was the zip line! Flying through the air gives you such an adrenaline rush! It’s amazing! The last thing we did was jump off a 30 ft pole! That’s scary! Especially when you’re standing at the top waiting to jump! But when you are finally in the air it feels so good! I wanna sky dive now! Every part of the day is fun, even when we’re just sitting around talking. We don’t really make much sense but that’s the funny part. Most of our conversation topics are, Ninjas, Minjas (Midget Ninjas), Justin Bieber ( Robert/Billy Bob is very defensive when we make fun of him.), Kevin(we’ve named a lot of random stuff Kevin), and last but not least…CHUCK NORRIS! As you can see, it’s been a pretty amazing time, and I’m looking forward to every minute!
Conner: Hey mom, dad who whoever else may be reading, I’m having a great time and it’s only the first day so that’s a good sign. Everyone is getting along great and we did a lot of team building things today on a high rope course as well as a low rope course everything from trust falls to jumping of 30 ft poles so basically just a great day of getting to know everyone and building trust and teamwork. I’m also learning so much from the scientists, they come in and give presentations and we were able to go up and see the invertebrate collection today in the upper floor of the museum, being able to go around the museum and go into the rooms with the collections is a wonderful feeling I feel as though we are part of the science teams at the museum. I surprised myself by first acting out scenes in a group for everyone which is something I never due and also writing about everything in the journal. Which is also something I never do, I believe I wrote more today in my journal than I took notes for my classes all school year long. So all and all I can say this is going to be one of the best experiences of my life and I’m grateful to be a part of it.
Daniella: Earlier today we climbed a ropes course. For me it was a new and interesting experience to be practically walking on air ( Or flying through the air 😉 , like riding the zip line and jumping off of a very tall pole for basically no other reason than ‘Because you can’. =P but, before we could go on the beast ropes course, we had to conquer the mini trust course. Now I think we all trust each other more than we did when we first arrived and said our hellos. After that adrenaline rush we all headed back to the museum and were surprisingly invited to see some of the invertebrate collection here at SAM NOBLE, where a vast assortment of early life relaxed in their white cabinets. Now we are all chillin’ in a super-secret room down in the catacombs of the museum… (not really I’m just playing lol) we’re in a classroom blogging. Well, that’s all for now—not too shabby for my 1st blogging shin-dig. Over-and-out.
Kelcey: Day 1 is coming to a close and I cannot possibly wait to see how the rest of the expedition pans out. This morning and early afternoon we had the opportunity to experience the ropes course and just south of the museum I think and learn how to build our trust in one another through both physically and mentally challenging obstacles. We spent the morning working mainly on working as a team and learning to totally trust each other in everything that we will need to do in the next two and a half weeks. There was a 14 ft. wall that we had to climb together as a team as well as balancing each other on a teter-toter. Then in the afternoon we literally took leaps of faith as we jumped off onto a zipline and off of a 30 ft high pole into midair. Now that I have been through the ropes course with everyone I feel that I can trust everyone with almost anything I want. Once we traveled back to the museum we had a wonderful Mexican Dinner followed by learning about invertebrate fossils and how there is just so many more than vertebrate fossils and what these fossils look like. We also gave a silent-charade like presentation traveling backwards through time from the Cenozoic to the Mesozoic and Paleozoic periods that reach back over 500 million years ago. Can’t say that I did the best job but I tried to my best ability. It looks like we will be starting to get to travel in the next few days around the state. I think it will be a great trip.
Nancy: Hi Mommy, daddy, siblings! 🙂 I miss you all, but I’m also having a wonderful time here as peer mentor. This year’s experience is actually way different from last year. Not only are there new people, but there are also new activities. I think so far, this paleo expedition has been going very well. Everyone is having a good time. We get along so well as a team. Everything gets more exciting as the hours go by. Today, we first began with waking up bright and early at 6:30-ish. Then, we got over to the museum classroom at around 7 for breakfast and prepare for the ropes course at 8. We spent almost 8 hours outside doing all sorts of teamwork games such as name games, listening, seeing, and trusting games, climbing over 14 feet walls without anything but our peers, climbing over a swinging log without touching the ground, balancing a huge teeter totter while singing row, row, row your boat 3 times, doing a 30 foot high obstacle course with a zip line, and finally jumping off a 30 foot pole without any support but one rope. The ropes course this year, I think, by far beats last years. I learned so much more about everyone and I learned to trust them ultimately. Afterwards, we got back to our suites, showered, and rested for an hour. Then, we came back to the classroom and learned all about the invertebrate fossils we will be finding this weekend at white mound. I’m super excited for that, too! I love these new things we are doing this year. It’s always so surprising! For instance, after we saw the collection of invertebrate fossils, which we didn’t see last year, we split into 2 groups. My group was responsible for recreating the geological timeline from beginning of the Paleozoic to today. The other group did it backwards. Both of ours were really great and hilarious, and I know we both have videos of them. Hopefully, we’ll all get a copy of them to show you all. Right now, we’re just talking to you while the other people are learning about wildlife they might encounter out camping. We get to touch a corn snake and salamander. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get the internet to work. So I can’t answer any questions. I will next time though! I’m having a great and tiring day, and I hope there are more to come! I’m definitely sleeping easy tonight! 😀
Susan: Hey everybody! Today was the first full day of camp. It was super fun! Yesterday we listened to a scientist named Nick talk about vertebrates. We handled a lot of cool bones and stuff like that. We learned a lot of really cool things too! Today we got to go on a ropes course. We did the low course first and it was a blast. We did a lot of team building things. We had to get everyone over a 15 foot wall without hand or foot holds by lifting and pulling. The bad thing was after you went over you could only help three people and then you just had to spot and make sure no one fell. It was really interesting to see people trying to get up. Looking up at them was the worst though because dirt would fall off their shoes into our eyes. Another game we played was a balance game. We had to sit on this board on a log and there were three rings that everyone had to keep their feet in. then we had to balance and sing “Row, row, row your boat” three times and it took us forever. I feel special because I had the idea to sit down instead of trying to stand and control our weight. It was a lot easier and we actually got it to stop rocking and balance. After that we went to the high ropes course and it was really fun. There was a zip line and that was the best part. Then there was a 30 foot pole that we climbed and had to jump off of. Being the dare-devil I wish I was I decided to go first but didn’t even know what we were doing. The climb up was fine but once I got to the top trying to turn around and stand on the very top of the pole was super scary. Then I was afraid to jump and stood up there for what seemed like forever. I finally jumped but we were aiming to hit a buoy and I was one of the only ones that missed. I was shaking so bad that I couldn’t really aimed. But Danielle got the first head but ever and Robert got the first attempted ninja kick. Then Conner, Danielle and Tyler all did it blind folded. It was very fun though. After that we got to come back and eat really good Mexican food and listen to Steve talk about invertebrates. It was really cool looking at all the trilobites and brachiopods. We got to go up to the storing rooms (or whatever they’re called) and look at all the really big stuff that they have. I got really good pictures of the stuff up there. We all felt like VIPs because no one but the scientists get to go up there. It was amazing. Then we got to go through the gallery and we split up into groups and had to act out the timeline from Paleozoic (really old), Mesozoic (dinosaurs), and Cenazoic (now). Our group had to go backwards from now to the beginning and it was really funny. We got to be lots of different creatures and its was amazing. We all won a prize and it was really yummy. I liked going through the gallery because every time I go through there I see something different and interesting. There’s all the big stuff that is awesome but then there are little things to find that you have to look hard to see. And there are these plant looking things in the beginning and we found out today that they are actually animals that just look like plants. They are like sea anemones (spelling?). We learned a lot of really cool stuff so far and I can’t wait to see what else we get to do. Saturday we are supposed to go to a sight and collect some invertebrates like trilobites. We even get to take them home when we’re finished. I’m so excited for the next couple of weeks and to get to do all the awesome things we did!
Ashley: Hey! Today has been amazing and like nothing I have ever done before! We’ve done everything from waking up way to early too jumping off of 30 foot poles and doing an entire balancing course from that height. I went to the ropes course, did all sorts of fun activities, and really got to know my group really well. There were a lot of trust and teamwork tests. We had to communicate, be open to each other’s ideas and above all listen to what everyone had to say. In most situations that was the only way to accomplish some of the tasks. Like balancing a giant board while having to follow certain restrictions. And relying on our group members’ strength to help get you across a swinging log. Other than that we had AWESOME food and a show, but not like you might think. Mainly because me and the rest of the students were the show. It was totally worth it! We were split into two groups. Nancy, Connor, Jessica, Rachel and I had to act out different life through certain times in history. From before dinosaurs up until now. It was sooooooo funny! XD haha. I am so tired and can’t wait for tomorrow! 🙂
Jessica: Its day 2 of the Paleo Expedition! It seems like SO much has been done in so little time! I am exhausted already but I’ve had a lot of fun. Yesterday, we played Cranium & my team won even though I’ve never played before! I actually don’t really know how we won but I actually did help (: So today we went to a ropes course to build up our teamwork skills & trust in each other. We started off pairing up into groups & guiding our partner who was blindfolded over two obstacles to retrieve an item. Then we played some more fun games, climbed a 14 ft. wall by people lifting or pulling you up, & then did the ropes course…I must admit that it was somewhat fun even though it was SO high up & pretty hard! I got tired like halfway through, but at least I finished & didn’t fall off! 😛 The zipline was probably the most fun part of the whole thing! Then we went to a 30 foot pole! Guess what we did at that pole? We jumped off it. I was shaking SO much before my turn but once I actually stood up at the top of the pole & jumped off, it was really fun! I’m extremely glad I did it. So far the Paleo Expedition has been pretty fun & I’m looking forward for it to get better! Hopefully I’ll be able to survive the camping part…haha. Anyways, I’ve already done/learned so much in the 2 days I’ve been here! I just now touched a snake, Mom ;). So just continue to keep me in your prayers!!
Mallory: Today was definitely an awesome day and I definitely can’t wait for the days to come! So to talk about today a little bit I’ll start off with the low ropes course that we did with Mr. Kelley. He was an amazing teacher and he definitely taught us a lot about team work and being able to have fun with each other and communicating. In the beginning of the day we did games with the balance beam, swinging log and lots of trusting exercises in between. One of my favorite, which I wasn’t very fond of in the beginning, was the trust fall! It was only a 3 foot drop but it seemed like forever and you had to trust everybody that you just met yesterday to catch you! But all the kids here are awesome and have very good heads on their shoulders. After the low ropes course we went on to the high ropes course and did all the obstacles there which were at least 20 feet high! But once I got up there it was a blast! And having the guys and girls control the rope for me, which would save my life if I fell, was definitely comforting because I knew I was in good hands!:) And then at the end of the day when we were all tired, but still ready for anything, we jumped off of a 30 foot pole! That was fun as soon as you got over your fear of falling as you’re trying to get to the top of the pole!!! But when I got to the ground I definitely wanted to kiss it! haha I miss you momma, daddy and bubba and I can’t wait to blog some more and tell you about all the cool stuff we get to do! Love you all and I’ll talk to ya later! 🙂
Rachel: Everything is going great. I’m really enjoying getting to know everybody. Today we woke up pretty early and went to the ropes course. We played around on the low ropes course then moved on to the high ropes course after lunch. We’ve had some great lessons from scientists at the museum. We’ve already had a full day of fun activities. I can’t wait to see what else is coming!
Tyler: Hey I’m having an amazing time, today we went to the ropes course and learned bunch of team building games. We also got to do the high ropes course we walked across beams thirty feet in the air and went on a zipline. It was really cool I also got to jump off a thirty foot pole blindfolded. I had to climb up it blindfolded then turn around and then jump. We also got to go up to see the invertebrate paleontology, we also listened to a invertebrate paleontologist tell us about White Mound, the site we are going to on Saturday, he told us about all the different kind of invertebrate fossils we could find there. I think his presentation is going to help me identify some of the fossils that I have at home.
Jordan: Glad to see everyone is having fun!! Can wait to pester Nancy and Tyler about the details and what they found… “It’s an arm…. or a tooth!… or… a … claw?” make them explain if they have not already. Anyway!! From the pictures it looks like a total blast and I can’t wait to read more from you guys!!! For the love of science have fun!!!
Days Three — Five
Hi everyone! We just returned from our camping trip to the Wichitas and Chickasaw National Recreation Area. It was amazing! We ate lunch at the top of Mt. Scott, hiked through the Wichitas and saw some amazing geological formations. We got to relax at camp where we cooked out, ate s’mores and went swimming. We also went on a fossil collecting trip to Whitemound, which is unique because usually you can’t take fossils away from a site. We found brachiopods, trilobites, coral, crinoid stems and more. Cool! The Paleo Expedition team members will be blogging tonight, so check back to see what they had to say! – Jes
Hi everyone! We were rained out of our Perry site visit today, but luckily the Vertebrate Paleontology Department had a large rubber mold taken of the trackway that let us study the trackway without needing to leave the museum. We learned about the types of tracks animals leave behind and how to interpret tracks to reconstruct movement. We got a great introduction to the Permian Period in Oklahoma and after dinner we figured out the importance of geology in the study of paleontology by doing some neat rock and mineral activities. This is a really great group. They have a blast doing everything (even cleaning up!) Be sure to check out the “Team Member Blogs” to see what everyone had to say about this weekend and today! – Jes
Nancy: Wow! Day 6 already! The days here fly by so quickly! Today we woke up expecting to spend the day at Perry to look at fossil tracks of reptiles and amphibians. However, the darn rain flooded the roads to Perry, so we had to stay at the museum all day. After breakfast and packing lunch, we had Nick, Bill, and Joe talk to us about tracks and everything we could possibly want to know about them. Then we played a game where we got into teams and tried to figure out the other team’s actions based on their tracks in the sand. We also made molds of amphibian tracks, saw the botany collection, played Permian Period Jeopardy, and played pictionary and signs. For dinner we had delicious brisket, turkey, and pulled pork from Rudy’s. I have to say that it’s probably the best I’ve ever had. Then after dinner, we got into groups of 3 and learned about the rock cycle through different kinds of lab projects set up around the room. All in all, the day was fun even if we didn’t get to experience the real tracks first hand. I can’t wait until tomorrow when we get to work in the prep lab with the real dinosaur bones! Man, this trip has been filled up with loads of fun stuff that are surprisingly interesting and educational. I never thought I could learn so much while having so much fun. I am truly blessed to be able to be a peer mentor on this paleo expedition! Everyone is so nice and funny. I can see us being close in the future. I miss you mom, dad, Monica, Catherine, and Peter! I can’t wait to see you at the presentations! Until then! 🙂
Leah: Hey family (Mom, Dad, Lucia, Laura) and friends! Today has been a bit different than we expected because of the rain, but we still had fun. We were originally going to go to Perry to look at some Permian track sites, but the rain caused flooding and prevented us from being able to go. So we hung out at the museum and learned about tracks there. Someone brought in sand and we discussed how tracks could be made, and how to identify what the person/creature who left the tracks was doing. Then we studied some rubber casts of tracks from the site we were going to see today and even made our own plaster casts of those later on, which we get to keep. Also, we went to see the Paleobotany collection the museum has and the person who worked there showed us around. Upon request, we were able to see the museum’s scanning electron microscope, which I honestly think was pretty cool 😀 After dinner we did a geology lab which was a nice review, and now some of us are blogging and the rest are playing ninja, which Laura knows how to play 😉 That’s pretty much it for today since I just arrived yesterday, I’ll keep ya’ll posted and talk to you later! Thanks for reading! Bye 😀 P.S. I’ll be sure to keep calling home at night! Give my love to Ivan and Tasha and love you too family 😀 – Leah
Rachel: Wow I can’t believe it’s already day six. It really doesn’t feel like I’ve been away that long. I really enjoyed our camping trip in the Wichita and Arbuckle Mountains. It’s been a really amazing six days. I feel I’ve really gotten to know and trust everyone. We learn new things everyday being surrounded by all the scientist. I feel pretty special getting to go back into the collection rooms and observe there. We also made some cool footprint casts.
Danielle: We’ve been camping awesomely the past few days and just got back to the museum yesterday. Today, we got the down-low on tracks and prints from ‘Nick the Naturalist’–lol I totally just came up with that =P (by the way he’s pretty cool) we also got to see some of the paleobotany collection today which was neat-o. Yesterday and today Bill + Joe filled us all in on The Permian Period and then we all rocked at playing Permian Jeopardy …well—that’s’ all for now folks
Mallory: Hey momma and daddy! Thanks for the brownie comment daddy! Well I basically told you everything on the phone last night and so I don’t have much to tell you! But today we didn’t get to go on our trip because the roads were flooded out on the way to Perry! But all was well because we got to hang out with Nick the scientist (remember him?) We got to bring this mat of sand in and make impressions with our feet and basically it improved our tracking skills. We played this game where we were split up into two teams and while one went in the hall where they couldn’t hear or see, the other was inside making an impression. When they were done, the team got to come back inside and guess what the person did in the sand! It was really fun and I had a blast! One time the other team did a three- legged race and I got the right answer and figured it out! But anyway, after that we played jeopardy for the Permian period and our team won! And then when we were done we got to take plaster casts of an impression in the cast that some of the scientists had made out in the field. They look really cool and I can’t wait to show you! We did a geology study thing after that and now we’re here! I can’t wait to see you guys, but I’ll try not to think about you too much! 🙂 Love you guys!
Jessica: Wow, it’s already day 6 of the Paleo Expedition! Time has flown. We got back yesterday from a day camp trip & it was SUPER fun even though I was hot & sticky a lot of the time & couldn’t take a shower. It felt SO good to take a shower yesterday night (: So today we were supposed to head to Perry but it seems that near OKC the roads were flooded! I hope all of you are okay!! It was kind of disappointing not being able to go to Perry but we still had a bunch of fun here at the museum. We did some tracking stuff & I have of course learned a LOT more today! Sometimes it’s hard to remember everything I learn because I learn so much each day! But I know that it’ll be put to good use. Yeah, it felt weird yesterday not being able to go to church but just know (Dad) I DID read my Bible (& everyday too! :D) So we’re headed to Nebraska on Thursday for a little over a week and I’m actually VERY excited!!! Yup, that’s about it & remember to keep me in your prayers! 🙂
Conner: Hey mom and dad, I’m having a great time and had loads of fun at the mountains. I guess you already heard I was there I get your texts but I don’t text back much, sorry. I found some awesome fossils for Maci too so she will be happy I also found a trilobite that was fully intact which was awesome and I get to keep all of them so that’s awesome. I’m learning a lot about paleontology as well as about myself,, i have been writing and drawing pictures almost every day and also just being more open and not worrying about what people think so that’s great it takes a lot of pressure out of moments that are just meant for fun, and I’ll end by saying sorry but I definitely am not missing Ada, Yet.
Anna: Woah!! Time is flying by! It’s been so much fun! This weekend we went camping at Sulfer and the Wichita mountains! That was really fun and we actually got to swim!! That was AWESOME!!! 😀 The water was so cold and felt amazing! Especially since we didn’t take a shower all weekend… yea… wasn’t pleasant. It was rad though we’re already so close and have so many inside jokes! :b We went to White Mound and I found two trilobites!!! Who knew that could be so exciting?! Haha! I’m finding there are a lot of things that excite me that i never knew would. Haha like a shower! I mean yea showers are amazing but I can’t say I’ve ever craved one like that 🙂 so yep, it’s been pretty great (especially learning how to track animals… and people!) Well… see ya!
Susan: Today is the sixth day and I’ve had so much fun so far! Everyone gets along so well. You’d be surprised at how much we laugh in a short amount of time. In the past few days we’ve been to the Wichita Mountains and Chickasaw National Recreational area. We’ve been camping and all smelled up the vans. Today we got to hang out with a couple scientists. Nick, he was with us at the mountains, Joe and Bill all taught us about tracking. We got to make our own tracks and then we had to figure out other peoples tracks that they made. We got pretty creative with that. Afterwards we got the go up to the paleobotany collection and see all kinds of fossilized plants. We even got to see a fossilized flower which is really rare because the petals are so delicate. I’ve learned so much in the past couple of days. I can’t wait to get to Nebraska and see all the different stuff we’ve done there! I love you Mom!
Tyler: Hey I’m having a great time. White mound was awesome i found two complete trilobites and lots of pieces of them and a bunch of brachiopod shell s(clam like creatures). Today our trip to Perry got rained out but we still had a lot of fun. We learned a lot today from Nick a paleontologist about tracking, it is really cool to learn how much information you can get out of a single track. We also got to go up into the paleobotany collections, its amazing how detailed some of their fossils were. I never would have expected that plant fossils would fossilize so well.
Ashley: Hello family! I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth! 🙂 I have had a wonderful time and gotten to know everyone SO well!! 😀 I don’t remember the last time I laughed until it hurt! The van rides are pretty epic and the best way to learn a little more about everyone. We’re about to take the longest van ride yet. In two days Nebraska… So far we have been to the Wichitas and Sulphur. I got to see the Wichitas like never before. We had a Comanche tour guide who taught us what kind of plants are edible and OU’s own wonderful Nick the tracker/Paleontologist. He’s pretty funny, but in a subtle way. 🙂 In Sulphur we got the history of the place and it was kinda sad, but very pretty at the same time! That’s all for now! Love you all! 😀
Kelcey: Hey Everybody, Today is day 6 of the Paleo Expedition, but it only seems like day 2. Time here is traveling so fast. Today we were planning on heading to the billings site at Perry, ok but sadly it was raining so much that the roads were flooded and we weren’t able to go. We’ve spent the past couple of days out in the wilderness of the Wichita and Arbuckle Mountains camping and learning about the mountains, plant, and animal life. There are so many things to learn that it never ceases to amaze me. The days were fun but the nights were hot and sticky. We also went to White Mound near Davis ,OK to collect our very own invertebrate fossils to keep forever which I will proudly bring home on the 27th. Tonight will be our last night in Norman before we head to Nebraska with a short stay at the OKC Zoo. We are also being able to the behind-the-scenes collections at proper times in the museum which is totally wicked. Everything is going fantastic all of the scientists are really helpful in providing us with everything that we need to know. Make sure that Lindsey is still feeding Pearl for me.
Hi everyone! Today we had a full day working in the Vert. Paleo Lab. We “micro” picked some tiny fish and reptile fossils, sorting out what was fossil and what was sand using a microscope, and also worked on a “macro” fossil, slowly uncovering fossils of a dinosaur using scalpels and brushes. We got to prepare fossils in the same way our paleontologists do and got some practice for when we get to Ashfall. Tonight, we’ll be sleeping in the museum’s Ancient Life Gallery (after watching “Night at the Museum”) and getting ready for our trip to the zoo on Wednesday. If we can’t get an internet connection tomorrow, we’ll check in on Thursday when we arrive in Nebraska. – Jes
Days Eight — Nine
Hi everyone! We’ve arrived safely in Nebraska after a long day on the road. We’re relaxing in the hotel tonight to get ready for our day at the University of Nebraska tomorrow. Yesterday we visited the OKC Zoo and got a behind the scenes tour by one of the keepers. We got to feed the rhinos and touch them too. It was a great experience and we finished the day by having a night tour of the zoo then sleeping over at the zoo’s tree house. Check out our pictures from the zoo! – Jes
Leah: Hey friends and family! We are now in Lincoln, Nebraska and at our hotel. We spent Tuesday working in the Paleo lab at the museum and got to work on actual fossils and stuff 😀 It was pretty awesome. We concluded the day by watching Night at the Museum at the museum, and then we spent the night in the Hall of Ancient Life exhibit under the Appatosaurus skeleton. We spent Wednesday at the Oklahoma City Zoo and were allowed to pat and feed some of the rhinos there since we are going to be excavating rhinos at Ashfall. We also got to see other animals at the zoo and took a ton of pictures and rode the carousel 😀 We took an evening tour to see some of the nocturnal animals and then spent the night at the treehouse there designed for groups. And I got some awesome frozen pink lemonade. Anyway. We woke up today and got a special morning tour of animals native to Oklahoma. We’ve been driving most of the day and reached Lincoln, Nebraska in the evening. We ate and swam and we just now finished watching a video on Ashfall. We’re going to go to bed soon, so I’ll ttyl! Thanks for reading 😀 Bye 😀
Danielle: Well… yesterday we stayed at the OKC zoo and got tours at night and in the morning which was really cool because we got to see all the nocturnal animals… and now as i type i am sitting in a chair at a table in a room at a hotel in Lincoln, Nebraska =P we spent most of today driving from the zoo to Nebraska and tomorrow we get to go to the museum –I’m pumped to go to the Ashfall site later on this week =] I shall communicate later because my fingers don’t wanna type so… bye =]
Jessica: We’re halfway through the Paleo Expedition! I cannot even imagine this expedition coming to an end, it’s going to get here fast! Well, these past few days have been just as fun as the past few. We went to the zoo yesterday and even though it was hot, it was fantastic! I got to ride the carousel (which I haven’t ridden in FOREVER) & we got to spend the night in the treehouse!!! 😀 That was one of the best parts (besides petting the chinchilla, who’s skin is VERY soft!). We also went on a night hike & a morning hike through different parts of the zoo. Finally, we’re in Nebraska right now!!! It’s crazy that we’re already here & it didn’t even seem like we drove 7 hours! Well we’re going to be here for a while & I can’t wait! Pray for me! (:
Susan: Hey everybody! We’re finally in Nebraska. We got here today after a 7 hour drive. The past couple of days have been pretty cool. We got to sleep in the museum a couple days ago, which was kind of creepy because you have dinosaurs hovering over you. We got to work on a jacket that they were trying to get the bones out of. The jackets are like a plaster that they mold around a section of ground that bones are in. We also worked in the microlab. We got to find tiny fish scales and teeth and other things like that. It was really awesome. Then we got to go the Skulls Unlimited which was really cool. We got to see the skeletons of a bunch of different animals. It was really neat because if you didn’t know what animal it was sometimes you couldn’t tell. They were really neat bones. We went to the zoo after that and got a behind the scenes tour of the rhinos. They were really cool. We got to pet them and feed them and it was really gross! They were really neat! Now we’re in Nebraska after a 7 hour drive. We got to swim today and tomorrow we’re going to Ashfall Park. I’m excited to find more animals!
Rachel: Woohoo Finally in Nebraska. We stayed the night at the zoo last night then got up at 7 and went on a morning hike. After that we got in the vans and made our way to Nebraska. I’ve really had a blast with the other students and the adventures.
Nancy: Hi everyone! These last 2 days have been so busy! We left the museum yesterday to go see skulls at a future museum in OKC. Afterwards, we went to the zoo to learn about modern rhinos and explore the animals. Then later that night we spent the night at the “tree house” at the zoo. Before we went to sleep we got to see/touch chinchilla, shrew, and armadillo. They are really cute animals 🙂 In the morning, we quickly ate breakfast and packed up. We then went to see the animals at the Oklahoma Trails exhibit which consisted of bears, wild cats, wolves, deer, otters, and pretty much every other Oklahoman animal out there. Before the sun got too hot, we left the zoo and began traveling to Nebraska. We ate Subway for lunch and had a few rest stops. At 5 we arrived at the hotel here in Lincoln, Nebraska where we ate dinner at golden corral, swam, and watched an intro movie to the Ashfall sight we are going to excavate soon. The hotel we are staying at is very nice. I’ve never had any complaints with Holiday Inn 🙂 I miss everyone and always having fun. Can’t wait to see you all at the presentations!
Ashley: Nebraska already! 😀 Hello to all that might be reading. We drove 7 hours today to get here and all I gotta say is that sleep sounds like a good thing. Last night we stayed the night at the zoo. We got a behind the scenes peek at some of the animals early this morning and late last night. Even more than that we got to pet some HUGE rhinos! Three of them! 😀 It was pretty wicked. The night before that we stayed the night at Sam Nobel Museum and ironically watched Night at the Museum! I have done so much that I would have never dreamed of doing. Guess I could say some of the things on my bucket list can be crossed off (ex: jumping off the 30′ pole and petting a rhino) Tomorrow we head out to a college to meet some of the Paleontologists! 🙂 So much fun with everybody here….currently trying to find them all on Facebook! 😉 Love you all! 😀
Mallory: Hi momma and daddy! How are you guys? We’re finally in Nebraska and I feel so far away from home. We got to spend the night at the OK City zoo and it was so much fun! We got to go behind the scenes and pet the rhinos and we got to go on a night hike and it was so much fun! And then this morning we went on a morning hike and was so much fun! Then we headed out for Nebraska and it actually didn’t feel like that long of a ride! That’s kinda good though I guess! I’ve had so much fun so far and i can’t wait to tell more stories about my adventures!:) Love you guys!!!
Conner: Hey mom and dad we are safe in Nebraska and I’m having loads of fun. We had a great time in the zoo and we got to pet a rhino so that was pretty awesome and Sunday we will be petting fossils of old rhinos so that’s cool, it was really fun to be able to go thru the zoo behind the scenes… so still not really missing Ada sorry love you goodnight
Tyler: Hey, I’m having a great time! The Oklahoma City Zoo was awesome, the rhino’s skin was super hard. It kinda had like plates of super hard skin then there were super soft parts between them. They also have a weird lip thing that they use to grab food. Spending the night at zoo was really cool to we got to go through the zoo at night, then before it opened early in the morning. We just watched a movie over the Ashfall, and we are going to get to meet the scientist that discovered the site it’s going to be awesome!!!
Anna: So the last few days have been fun! I guess they have made me really tired because just before now we were watching a movie and I fell asleep! I don’t know how it happened but before I knew it Kelso (Kelcey) was shaking me and I woke up and they were laughing! Apparently he had been kicking my chair the whole time trying to wake me up… but of course Ima hard sleeper!!! : ANYWHO! It was really fun spending the night at the museum! We played sardines, watched Night at The Museum, and spent the night under the giant Apatosaurus! That was so awesome! Then we went to the zoo and spent the night there, which was also awesome! And then came to Nebraska…which was too awesome!!! So as you can see… lots of awesome/fun stuff going on! 🙂 So I’m having a blast and can’t wait to start doing some stuff here in Nebraska! Woohoo! 🙂
Kelcey: Hey there friends and family it is now day 9 and we are in Lincoln, NE. Last night we were able to sleep at the treehouse at the zoo which was an incredible experience. We got to see so many different and exotic animals around the entire park. I got to pet a very soft animal called a chinchilla which was and still is the softest mammal ever found. We took a behind the scenes tour and were able to pet and feed the African & Indian rhinos. Earlier that day we went to skulls unlimited and saw almost every different skull that has been found in the animal kingdom. In the next few days we will head to the university of Nebraska-Lincoln and final destination Ashfall. Talk to ya soon.
Hi everyone! Today we found out about college life with a tour of the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. After lunch, we visited the Nebraska’s state natural history museum where we practiced our fossil excavation techniques and checked out their large collection of Cenozoic fossils on display. We finished the day with a planetarium show and a swim before bed. We’ll head to UNL’s paleontology collection tomorrow to see some of the fossils recovered from Ashfall and have another day of fun! – Jes
Hi everyone! We’ve been so busy we haven’t had a chance to blog, but we have had such a great time in Lincoln! Today we explored UNL’s paleontology collection and got a chance to see the fossils recovered from Ashfall up-close. We also spent the afternoon at “Elephant Hall”, Nebraska’s state natural history museum, which has an amazing collection of fossils including the largest mammoth, a giant sloth and more. We’ll head to Ashfall tomorrow which is three hours north of Lincoln. We will probably not have internet access while there, but we will check in if possible. Otherwise, we’ll check-in Friday night. While at Ashfall, we will not only work on excavating the world-famous rhino site, but also travel to other sites in the area to practice surface collection, jacketing and fossil preparation. It will be an experience of lifetime and we can’t wait to get there! – Jes
Hi everyone! We arrived at Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historic Park safely and enjoyed some Subway on the way. Yummy! Upon arriving at Ashfall, we were greeted by Rick Otto, Park Superintendent, who gave us our first introduction to the Ashfall site. We learned all about the volcano located in present-day Idaho that deposited the ash at Ashfall. We also learned about the different kinds of species that lived at Ashfall some 11.8 million years ago. Some of the species included Barrel Bodied Rhinos, Three-Toed Horses, Craines, and Camels ,just to name a few. Rick took us to the Rhino barn where we saw the complete skeletons of some of the species above. It was amazing. Next, we met up with Dr. Mike Voorhies who gave us his personal tour of the Ashfall site. We got to go where the general public can’t. Dr. Voorhies took us to the hillside where he found the first rhino bone. After our tours, we departed for Niobrara State Park where we stayed while in Nebraska. We didn’t have much time to unpack when we got there as we had to prepare for our Bison BBQ. This was a special occasion as we had several honored guests including the Ashfall staff, Reggie Whitten and other representatives from the Whitten-Newman Foundation who funded our Explorology program. The bison was delicious and the people were great! After some clean-up we head to our cabins for some sleep. – Jes
Hi everyone! Today, we headed out to Ashfall to begin our field work where we worked side by side with Dr. Voorhies and Rick Otto. We were divided up into teams and rotated on an hourly schedule so all of us could get a chance at all the activities. Some of the activities included digging in the National Geographic site where we found some turtle shell fragments and many other interesting fossils, dry screening where we searched for the smallest of fossils, micro-picking and working in the rhino barn. One of our members found a new rhino in the barn! Ashfall staff decided to name the new discovery after the team member who found it. The full name is Sooner Ben Mallory. After a very busy day of being in a paleontologist’s shoes we headed back to Niobrara for a yummy dinner and some sleep.
Hi everyone! What a day of exciting finds! We departed for a new site located on Golter’s Ranch not far from the Ashfall site. The Golter’s Ranch Site is dated 3 million years after the events at Ashfall. This site was gridded only with flags. We had to first start by recording our location by GPS and our elevation. There were a few fossils laying on the surface which aided us in picking spots to start excavating. It didn’t take long before we started to find ribs (mainly broken, but a few whole), teeth of rhinos and ancient elephants, called Gomphotherium, from the early Miocene. We got to do a few field jackets which aided in stabilizing the fragile bones. For dinner we headed to the Van Brocklin Ranch in which the Ashfall staff provided us with a wonderful picnic. It was good eat’in! At the ranch, we waded in a creek to look for fossils before we headed back to the cabins for the night. We will return to Golter’s Ranch tomorrow.
Hi everyone! We had a heavy rain storm move through last night and we couldn’t wait to see what was uncovered for us at our dig site. Upon arriving at Golter’s Ranch, Dr. Voorhies pointed out an elephant tusk that had been uncovered by the rain and some more ribs as well! We couldn’t believe that we had been sitting on top of all those fossils the previous day! We started putting field jackets on the uncovered fossils and continued excavating. Some of the finds for the day were more rhino ribs, teeth, and a small mole bone which we found while dry screening (a first find for the site). We had so much fun working at Golter’s Ranch. Dr. Voorhies, Nick, Rick, and the other staff were great mentors! That night we learned some more neat survival skills from Nick and about how paleontologists use topographic maps. – Jes
Hi everyone! We headed out on a road trip today. We saw another side to paleontology as we visited some road cuts to look for microfossils. At some of the sites we found horse teeth and rodent fossils. At another location, we searched for needle and thread grass seeds that had been fossilized. The seeds were only about 1 millimeter in diameter so we really had to get on the ground to look for them. Our loops (magnifiers) helped us identify them. Once we found a few seeds in a particular location, we learned that you can take a bucket of water and place some of the soil from the area in the water and the seeds will float to the top. That made the job a little easier. We said goodbye to Dr. Voorhies, Rick and Ashfall today as we headed to the Lewis and Clark Recreational Area for dinner. At the L&C we met up with Tom Vollmer who was going to take us out on his boat to look for fossils along the shore line but due to high water, we couldn’t go. But Tom did bring us his fossil collection. His collection had a large variety of fossils ranging from Bison to Mosasaur fossils. Tom had a story to tell about each fossil and we really enjoyed them. That night at Niobrara we decided to relax as it was our last night and watched the sun set over the Missouri River together.
Hi everyone! We arrived back to the museum safely after a LONG day of driving…but Braum’s ice cream makes all long rides great! – Jes
Conner: Hey y’all we r back to the museum now and we had a wonderful trip, I can say I have been all the way to South Dakota now so that’s pretty cool. But I must say that it doesn’t compare to the experience in Nebraska. The land there is way nicer than I had thought I had it in my head that it was going to be flat farm land, which most of it was but were we stayed we were in a river valley with the best view of my life. On the fossil side of the trip we found many new and exciting thing, we found a brand new rhino in the ash fall rhino barn, as well as the first microfossil, bird fossil as well as a few other species at another location a few miles from the ash fall sight. It was a wonderful trip and definitely have some stories of a lifetime. Even though it was such a great trip I gotta say I am beginning to miss Ada just a little bit and can’t wait to see you guys Sunday:)
Leah: Wow, it’s been quite a while since I last got on the blog. We just got back from Nebraska, which was pretty awesome. I don’t really know where to start. We left for Nebraska last Thursday and arrived at Lincoln the same day. The next day we took a tour of the University of Nebraska, and that was pretty awesome. It’s a good college, but it probably isn’t right for me. Anyway. Next we went to the university’s museum of natural history, which was super cool. We looked around a little bit and then went to a rather entertaining planetarium show. On Saturday we spent some more time at the museum and in the museum’s vertebrate collection, where we got our first glimpses of some Ashfall animals. On Sunday we left for Ashfall and arrived and then were given a tour. After that we had a barbeque at Niobrara State Park (where we were staying-it was really beautiful there) that all of us had planned in honor of Mr. Whitten. Monday we started our work in the field, so to speak. We spent the day at Ashfall and looked for microfossils, dug in the “rhino barn”, worked in the National Geographic quarry, and also worked in the prep lab. Tuesday and Wednesday we worked on a quarry fairly close to Ashfall, and we found some pretty awesome things like rhino ribs. Yesterday we practiced fossil prospecting in several places and drove to the Lewis and Clark Reservoir where we learned about marine paleontology. As a bonus we drove over the dam into South Dakota, where we fed some fish at a fishery there and I bought some postcards. This morning we got up and left to come home, and after a long drive we’re back 😀 I’ll try to explain in more detail-this is just a brief overview. Thanks for reading 😀
Tyler: Hey! We are back from Nebraska, we had a great time. Ashfall was awesome; it’s amazing how well preserved the bones are, they are preserved in 3D so we can see exactly how large the rhinos were. We also got to go to a lot of cool places like gulter ranch. Gulter ranch was a site that had been barley excavated, so when we went there we found tons of bones. I dug up 13 ribs and a two rhino teeth. There was also a tusk of an elephant and a large predatory cat tooth found. It was awesome!
Kelcey: Well this expedition is beginning to come to a close. I can honestly say that this has been a life changing experience and that it is hard to think that in just a few days I might never see these wonderful people ever again. Over the past few days we have been in and around Ashfall State Park. We have had so many different activities that it seems like it has been a few weeks rather than a few days. I have had the opportunity to make many new and interesting discoveries along with my fellow campers. I have made memories that cannot and will not be replaced visually in my head for a very long time. The area at the Niobrara State Park was absolutely one of the beautiful sites I have ever laid eyes on. It’s hard to talk about all that has happened even when it still fresh in my mind. Mike Voorhies and the head supervisor Rick as well as the interns have provided an immense amount of insight and knowledge into this incredible find. I have found several vertebrae, teeth, bone fragments, and even a rare bird bone in the soil of the surrounding area. As a team we have had a ton of firsts and have caused quite a stir in Northeast Nebraska. It will be nice to go home, but it will be hard to leave.
Rachel: Finally were back in Oklahoma. We’ve been away for a week and every bit of it was full of fun stuff. Good Greif we have done so much I can’t even list it all. I’m still having fun and enjoying everyone’s company. Anyway that’s pretty much it for now. Can’t wait to see my friends and family back home.
Anna: Hey! Whoa whoa whoa! Nebraska was awesome! I didn’t want to leave, none of us did. First off where we stayed was completely beautiful! Our cabins overlooked the Missouri river and made the most beautiful sunsets! The grass was long and the sky was blue 🙂 I loved it! Even the crazy storms at night were amazing!! We got to tour the University of Nebraska which was wicked pissah!! 😀 Me and Mallory wanna go there now and play for the soccer team and possibly join a sorority if it’s not dumb 🙂 haha! Now, Ashfall was so cool! It too was wicked pissah!!(that’s how you say awesome in Boston :D) anywho they have this thing called the rhino barn where you can see the skeletons just how they found them! It’s so weird! We mostly worked at this place called the Gulter Ranch! We found so many ribs, tusks, teeth and all kinds of crazy stuff! It’s been a blast! 🙂 I had a great time!
Mallory: WOW!!! What can I say? The last week has been amazing and there so much to tell! Well to begin we headed down to Nebraska last Thursday and that was a trip in itself which involved lots of laughing! The next day we went to the Nebraska campus to tour and look at the museum. The campus was really cool and I was so excited and happy to tour an actual college campus. On the next day we went to the museum again to work on fossils and on how to identify certain ones. The next day we headed to Ashfall and it was so spectacular! It was amazing what they had uncovered there! Over the next several days we worked in the lab, quarry and other sites around Ashfall. And my most favorite part of the week was when I uncovered the back of a baby rhino skull and i didn’t even know it! Two days after that we had a picnic on one of the ranches that several fossils were found. One of the paleontologist that worked at Ashfall told me that i had uncovered a baby rhino skull and my heart leaped out of my chest! And then he told me that tradition was that whoever uncovered a skeleton gets to name it! So in respect he suggested I name it Sooner (for OK sooners) Ben (for the intern that was working on the square that I found it in) Mallory (of course for me!) I couldn’t believe it and I felt so happy! After visiting several places we headed back to Oklahoma today and I was so happy and sad at the same time because i couldn’t wait to see my family but I also made some awesome friends and I don’t want to leave them! But maybe we can have some cool reunions though!:)
Nancy: Hey everyone! It’s been about a week since I’ve been able to even touch a computer, but I didn’t miss it too much at all. Nebraska is absolutely gorgeous! Most of it is country corn fields, more country than Oklahoma, but once you get really close to South Dakota you start seeing these pretty sandy/grassy hills. The hills are where fossils are found. You can find mostly ancient mammal fossils there like rhinos, camels, horses, and bearcats. We also found fossil seeds and fish bones. Ashfalls is near the South Dakota border and is filled with beautiful hills. The place has an ash bed filled with mostly rhino skeletons frozen in their exact positions as they died. It was wicked cool! I have tons of pictures to show all of you and I can’t wait to see you all Sunday! I miss you all so much, and I’m going to miss this expedition so much!
Susan: Hey everyone! We just got back from Nebraska. It was really amazing up there. I want to move there when I’m older. The sun sets every night were amazing. We went to a couple different places. We got to dig at Ashfall where the rhinos are. Mallory actually found a new baby rhino and she got to name it. We went to the Golter Ranch and found so much cool stuff! There were a bunch of ribs and some pieces of skull and we actually found a few new species which was pretty awesome. There were a lot of cool things to do in Nebraska. We got to do so much cool stuff. I’m gonna be so sad when we all leave. Nick, one of the scientists that’s been with us since almost the beginning, just left and it was very, very sad. We’ve all learned so much from him. The whole trop has been extremely informative and exciting. I would love doing this kind of thing every day instead of reading books about it. We have a great group too. We all did so much and we worked so well together. We accomplished things in record time and we did so much new stuff. I wouldn’t have traded this half a month for the world. 🙂
Ashley: Back from Nebraska! So much has happened in the last….week? Idk how long it’s been exactly. We got to tour the Univ. of Nebraska-Lincoln, meet some world-renowned Paleontologists, and ummmmm…..sweat and laugh a lot…. 😀 I can honestly say I have spent a lot of time playing in the dirt. 🙂 Fun stuff and the best part was that there was treasure in the dirt! I found so many fossils and they were at sites that had never been thoroughly excavated. I can proudly say, we were the first!! 😀 We began to say our official goodbyes to a lot of people yesterday….I’m going to miss a lot of people here, but I’m glad I had the experience! I wish I had the time…and energy, to write out a day-by-day layout. I will have plenty of war stories to tell you all when I get home, but for now I’m keeping you all in suspense.
Jessica: We’re back in Oklahoma! It was 9 hour drive from Nebraska but it went by FAST. I had a great time at Nebraska & we did so much I don’t even know if I can name it all! We toured the campus and museum in Nebraska of course & also went to Ashfall Site. At the Ashfall Site we excavated in the rhino barn & the quarry. We also did some more micro picking & working in the prep lab. We visited a bunch of other sites & did some prospecting. One day we went to Golter’s Ranch where we had a DELICIOUS picnic provided by Dorothy, the owner of the land, & the Ashfall Site staff. At the Golter Ranch we got to walk in the creek which felt really good. Anyways, we need to start working on our presentation for Sunday which is SO close! I’m really sad about leaving but I’m grateful for all the great memories & friends I’ve made!!! J See you all soon.
Danielle: Well we’re back from our ‘Great Nebraskan Adventure’ and feeling fine. Throughout this trip, I’ve noticed that everyone is blogging a novel while I’m typing a pamphlet; so braces yourselves for a blog of epic proportions. While we’ve been on this trip, everyone has been bombarded by awesome opportunities and experiences, but Nebraska tops the pie. We all found lots of fossils while we were there like rhino ribs, teeth, and all sorts of bone fragments. Mike Voorhies is an amazing paleontologist and he’s so nice. He’s the one that found the 1st fossil at Ashfall (a baby rhino skull). While we were at the Ashfall museum we all split up into teams to work and dig around the site. That way everyone got to dig in the ‘Rhino Barn’, microlab, prep lab, and the old National Geographic site. Then we went to the Golter Ranch, dug up a ton of fossils, and got to make field jackets for some of the bones that we found. Everyone has gotten to be really close friends and it is going to be so hard to leave everyone. Well, this blog wasn’t quite as long as I had planned it to be, but it’s still longer than my others–so I succeeded =] Well my peeps, I gotta go- so it’s bye for the last time yo.
Hi everyone! Today we found out about college life again as we toured the University of Oklahoma campus. After the tour, we went back to the museum to work on our research presentations, which we’ll share with everyone at the closing ceremony tomorrow. We ate dinner a Cheddars, Yummy! And headed back to the hotel to watch a movie on our last night together. – Jes
Hi everyone! Today we presented our findings to our parents and friends at the Sam Noble Museum during the closing ceremony. It was sad to say goodbye to each other, but we had such a GREAT time during Paleo Expedition! We met some amazing people, had a chance to be paleontologists for two weeks and had the opportunity to work some incredible scientists. Good Luck to everyone and keep it touch with us! See what’s going on with us on Facebook or send us an email. Have a fantastic year and thank you so much for sharing your summer with us! – Jes