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National Fossil Day National Event in Washington, D.C., Oct. 11

National Fossil Day is approaching quickly on October 11! Have you made your plans yet?

National Fossil Day began in 2010 by the National Park Service and the American Geological Institute. Seven years later, more than 300 partners, including museums, federal and state agencies, fossil sites, science and education organizations, avocational groups, and national parks are joining in on the fun. By now, you have hopefully seen Part 1 and Part 2 of an expansive list on this blog of nationwide events celebrating National Fossil Day. As we continue to hear from museums, schools, and institutions, we will provide a Part 3 of nationwide celebrations.

“From remote badlands to people’s backyards, it’s truly amazing where one can find fossils,” said Acting Director Michael T. Reynolds. “National Fossil Day showcases partnerships with museums, educational institutions, and communities who work together to preserve these pieces of the past for future generations.”

National Fossil Day at the National Mall, Washington, D.C.

One major event is happening in Washington, D. C., and if you are in the area, it will be an amazing experience to celebrate National Fossil Day with the National Park Service as well as several participating partners. The theme this year, “Excavating the Past: Celebrate National Fossil Day,” is recognizing the U.S.’s fossil heritage with events and programs in D.C. that promote public awareness and stewardship of fossils.

The event is taking place at the pathway between the National Museum of Natural History and the Smithsonian Castle, October 11th, from 10 am – 2 pm

Partner activities include:

  • National Park Service– Be sworn in as a Junior Paleontologist and receive your official junior paleontologist badge by completing our Junior Paleontologist workbook. Learn about fossils at our national parks with fossil demonstrations and additional handouts.
  • Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History– Come sift through Miocene marine sediments to discover your very own shark tooth on the National Mall and then explore our exhibits inside the National Museum of Natural History where volunteers and docents will have more paleontological interactions in our The Last American Dinosaurs exhibit.
  • American Geosciences Institute– Come visit the interactive photo-booth where you can your picture taken at famous fossil sites, and with fossils and other prehistoric creatures.
  • Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission – Dinosaur Park – Learn about the fossils of dinosaurs and other creatures found just outside of Washington, D.C., including Maryland’s state dinosaur: the giant Astrodon johnstoni!
  • Calvert Marine Museum– See amazing shark teeth and other fossils collected from the Chesapeake Bay Region.
  • Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forestry Service: See fossils from our federal lands and learn how they are cared for and studied for future generations.
  • George Washington University: Meet local paleontologist from GWU as they share their research and discoveries on new dinosaur and crocodile species from China.
  • Society of Vertebrate Paleontology– Learn about this professional network of paleontologist and its commitment to the research at federal and state lands and the protection of public fossil resources.
    • SVP is also holding a drawing for a school to win a donated cast of a Teratophoeneus skull! Here are the rules for the drawing:
      • Students who visit our table may submit their school for the drawing
      • Only schools in the lower 48 states will be eligible because of expense of shipping the cast elsewhere, otherwise all schools K–12 or university are eligible
      • At the end of the day one random entry will be selected
      • SVP will confirm that the winning school is willing to accept the donation (which will be free of any charge, including shipping); should the school not be willing, we will repeat the draw until we find one that is
      • No money will be exchanged at any point; entering will be free for the students and the cast will be free to the school!
Win a cast of the skull of this tyrannosaurid, Teratophoneus, for your school! Details above. Image from Loewen et al. (2013), CC-BY.

In addition to the national event in Washington, D.C. and the numerous local events occurring nationwide, how else can you get involved in NFD?

Art Contest: Artists of all ages are submitting art before October 5 (and if you are a super quick draw, you can submit your art before the deadline today!) for the National Fossil Day Art Contest, which has the theme “The Future of Fossils: People Studying and Caring for Our Fossil Heritage” for 2017. Winning art will be displayed online starting October 11.

Earth Science Week: National Fossil Day is an official focus day of Earth Science Week! Educators can schedule a field trip at a park or museum or download lesson plans. National parks that have in-park fossil field trip opportunities or in-class projects include Grand Canyon National Park, Curecanti National Recreational Area, and Cumberland Island National Seashore.

Junior Paleontologist Program: Earn a Junior Paleontologist badge by downloading a book and completing fun fossil activities. Books are also available at many National Park Service sites that have fossil resources.

Share your experience: Inspire others to learn more about fossils by posting your National Fossil Day experience on social media using “#NationalFossilDay”. Share something you learned, a picture of your favorite fossil or fossil site, or your meeting with a paleontologist.

If you have an event you’d like included in Part 3 of our list of events, email it to John-Paul Hodnett.

Featured Image: Celebrating National Fossil Day at the Smithsonian, 2014. Image courtesy Bureau of Land Management, My Public Lands Tumblr.

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