Return to the Badlands

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Four Westhampton Beach High School students returned to the Badlands in July to continue work they started as part of Westhampton Beach Middle School’s PALEOS program, led by science teacher Robert Coleman. 

High schoolers Julia Blydenburgh, Matt Daleo, Josh Kaplan and Griffin Scheuer, along with high school science research teacher Dr. Dianna Gobler, spent a week in the field acquiring data, formulating hypotheses and connecting with scientists to learn from their expertise. 

The students also visited the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research in South Dakota and prospected and uncovered 50 specimens in an attempt to identify potential “paleo-forest” locales within the Lance Formation in northeastern Wyoming. In addition, they helped to repair and reconstruct a triceratops orbital horn, created two casts of the Saurexallopus zerbsti track from the Zerbst Ranch Trackway, visited the Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming and attended the seventh annual Dino Shindig in Ekalaka, Montana.   

The students will apply what they learned on this trip to individual research projects ranging from Cretaceous turtles, to carnivorous versus herbivorous teeth from dinosaurs, to insects seen in the late Cretaceous Period based on tooth margins.  

“The level of maturity and high-level thinking demonstrated by these students is truly commendable,” said Coleman. “They engaged in sophisticated discussions with scientists and represented the true spirit of our school community.”