Field Trips

Simulated Fossil Dig

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Grade Level:
Upper Elementary: Third Grade through Fifth Grade
State Standards:
See attached Teacher's Guide for list of standards.


Grades 3–5, 60-90 minutes

This field trip is a great introduction to fossils (paleontology), rocks (geology), and being stewards of public lands. During this program, students participate in a simulated paleontological field exercise uncovering replica fossils. They will map, measure, and identify fossilized remains of Late Triassic animals. Students will also take field notes and make hypotheses and conclusions about their discoveries.

Group size is limited to 25 students.

Lesson Goals

  • develop an understanding of the science of paleontology by learning the skills and concepts involved
  • be introduced to geological time periods represented at the park
  • explore an aspect of paleontology through participation in a field exploration
  • become aware of the importance of preservation of paleontological resources
  • understand the role of the National Park Service in the preservation and protection of natural and cultural resources.

 Learning Objectives

  • describe paleontology as the study of ancient life on earth through fossils
  • list geological time periods represented at the park
  • explain why choices have consequences
  • use scientific methods adopted by paleontologists
  • recognize that paleontological resources are nonrenewable
  • describe at least one thing they learned about Petrified Forest National Park and/or the National Park Service.

Programs are available between 8:00 am and 4:00 pm, Monday through Friday.

To request this program, please contact the education program coordinator at least three weeks before your visit. 

Phone: (928) 524-6228 ext.276

Educational Fee Waivers
School groups, including home schools, may apply for an educational fee waiver several weeks before a visit. Without an approved application, school groups will be considered a noncommercial group and charged entrance fees accordingly.

Travel Grants 
Each year Petrified Forest National Park offers funding to help schools cover transportation costs to the park for educational field trips. Travel grants are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. School groups unable to visit the park without financial assistance are encouraged to apply, however, any school group is eligible to apply and can send in an application at any time.


This teacher's guide contains background knowledge for your students, education standards associated with the field trip, and student assessment questions.

Download Simulated Fossil Dig Teacher's Guide

Download Educational Fee Waiver Request Form

Download Travel Grant Application

Last updated: March 11, 2019