FOSSIL team heads to Bradenton, FL for National Fossil Day

October brings many great things- pumpkins everywhere, Halloween, our newsletter (see below) and of course National Fossil Day! National Fossil Day officially happens on October 15, but there are celebrations happening nationwide all month. The FOSSIL team will be traveling to join in the celebration of all things fossiliferous Saturday, October 4, at the South Florida Museum in Bradenton. Many fossil clubs and paleo societies will be in attendance to show off their collections. We will be bringing famous fossils from the Florida Museum of Natural History which were contributed by amateur paleontologists and examples of fossils you can find all around the country. Come by and visit us if you are going to be there! Go to our events page or the National Fossil day website to find more events around the U.S. all month. Contact FOSSIL if you have any events for us to add to our calendar.

Check out our latest newsletter

The latest issue of The FOSSIL Project Newsletter is out. Check out a pdf of the entire newsletter or go to our newsletter page to browse our selection of articles. Thanks to all who contributed. We are excited to feature Bonnie Jacobs and WIPS as our featured paleontologist and club, respectively. Also read about the latest FOSSIL project happenings and read about the experience of our Florissant Fossilbeds field course winners.


Fostering Opportunities for Synergistic STEM with Informal Learners

Throughout the U.S., more than 60 fossil clubs and societies hold meetings, host speakers, organize festivals, and run field trips; conduct outreach; work with scientists; build their own collections; and contribute to the study of paleontology. However, in contrast to other science hobbyist groups (e.g., birdwatchers), fossil clubs are not closely networked nationally. Moreover, some fossil clubs have only limited access to the resources of professional paleontologists and natural history museums. Together, these realities limit their opportunities for informal STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) learning in the field of paleontology.

Initially based at the Florida Museum of Natural History and with funding from the National Science Foundation, FOSSIL is cultivating a networked community (known as a community of practice) in which amateur and professional paleontologists collaborate in learning, the practice of science, and outreach. This national community is determining the scope of FOSSIL activities, tools, and resources, and collaborating in their development and implementation. Mediated by the myFOSSIL Web space (, FOSSIL includes opportunities to: (1) communicate electronically and socially; (2) engage in training and development; (3) attend meetings and workshops (in person or virtually); (4) conduct outreach to underserved audiences; (5) contribute to and have access to the growing digitized collections in U.S. natural history museums; and (6) create and share personal digitized fossil collections. The inaugural FOSSIL project meeting took place in conjunction with the 10th North American Paleontological Convention in Gainesville, FL in February, 2014.

FOSSIL includes research to better understand how this approach supports the development of a community of practice and impacts participation in science. In addition, FOSSIL will build upon ongoing national “big data” initiatives that over the next decade will make millions of digitized fossil specimens available to diverse stakeholders, including fossil clubs and amateur paleontologists. The knowledge gained from FOSSIL will enlighten informal and formal STEM educators about how to effectively engage the public with scientific data.