A Full Weekend of Fun at PaleoFest

Burpee Museum is celebrating its 25th anniversary of PaleoFest that draws experts from around the world to share their insight with lovers of paleontology.

“This weekend is the center of the paleontology world,” says Joshua Mathews, vice president of research and operations and director of paleontology at Burpee Museum. “Like-minded people get together to learn what’s new in the field.”

This year’s event takes place March 3-5 at the Burpee Museum of Natural History, 737 N. Main St., Rockford, and features two days of events open to the general public from 9:15 a.m.- 5 p.m. Saturday and 9:45 a.m.- 5 p.m. Sunday.

Events include a lecture series featuring 17 speakers from around the world, workshops for children, and eight Paleo Passport stations where attendees can collect information and learn about different aspects of paleontology. All speakers are scientists with advanced degrees or graduate students with specialists in some aspect of paleontology.

“When people think of paleontology, they think of dinosaurs, but the field covers a lot more about all ancient life, including plants, mammals, invertebrates, reptiles and more,” Mathews says.

Some of the family workshops held during the weekend include “Fossil Lake in a Jar Workshop” for those ages 3-6. Fifty-five million years ago, massive lakes covered the western United States and preserved countless fossils from tiny horses to schools of fish. Learn about the process of fossilization and make your own Fossil Lake in a jar.

“Brachiopods Cast Workshop,” for the same age group, teaches about plaster casts that recreate animal impressions after death.

For those 7 and older, “Amber Workshop” teaches about amber and how no other fossil preserves animals in greater detail. Participants can make their own amber soap fossil. Also, “A Guide to Paleontology Workshop” teaches youngsters about what it takes to be a paleontologist, including fossil preparation, studying the past, specialized tools and the different fossil phases.

A number of ticket options are available at burpee.org/paleofest-tickets. ❚