The JPs at Battle Mountain in Hot Springs, South Dakota.

The JPs atop Battle Mountain in Hot Springs, South Dakota.

While some students spent their summers working, 14 Chicago Public School students were immersed in a world of scientific discovery. For three weeks these students participated in the Junior Paleontologists (JP) program studying anatomy, geology, and paleontology with leading scientists in Illinois and South Dakota.

The JPs began their journey with a two-week intensive classroom experience. Students met with working scientists learning to classify rocks and minerals, identifying the vertebrate body plan, and studying earth’s geologic history.

After two weeks of preparation the JPs  traveled to Hot Springs, South Dakota to spend five days excavating at The Mammoth Site. JPs worked alongside scientist in the bone bed and  in the fossil preparation lab cleaning 26,000 year old mammoth bones. While in South Dakota, the JPs visited Wind Cave National Park, the first cave in the world to become a national park,  and stopped by the Mount Rushmore National Monument. Here are some things the JPs had to say about their experience.

JPs observe a large perserved armadillo on a private tour of collections at The Field Museum in Chicago.

JPs observe a large perserved armadillo on a private tour of collections at The Field Museum in Chicago.

“Since I have been here I discovered and witnessed a lot of interesting things and I am proud to say I am a JP and always will be.” - Armani, 10th grade, Perspectives Charter School–IIT Math and Science Academy

“I used to think that learning about the world was boring. Now I know many interesting facts about the world and it could be a fascinating subject to know.” - Esau, 11th grade, Pritzker College Preparatory High School

“Being a JP means that you can aim for your goals without someone holding you back to accomplish every one of your dreams no matter the circumstances.” – Karla, 11th grade, Curie Metropolitan High School

“The things I found out about myself is that if I put my mind to it I can do it like getting to see cool places up close.” - Latecia, 10th grade, North Lawndale College Preparatory High School

The 2009 Junior Paleontologists had an amazing three weeks of curiosity, discovery, and new experiences. Check out their pictures to see a snapshot of their journey.

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