About the Course


  • Grades 7-11
  • Advanced CTY-Level

Ninety-nine percent of all species that ever lived on Earth are now extinct. What types of life forms have existed throughout history? How have mass extinction events shaped our planet? What types of adaptations have Earth’s species made to survive in our changing world? Paleobiologists combine elements of biology, geology, and paleontology and examine the clues from our planet’s living history to answer these and other critical questions. This field science course explores Earth’s biological and environmental history by examining fossils in the field and in curated collections. You and your classmates will discover modes of fossilization, investigate key geological concepts, and classify major phyla of animal and plant life in ancient and modern forms. You’ll dissect present-day organisms, comparing them with extinct life forms and identifying adaptations that have led to stronger survival rates. Along the way, you’ll study topics including evolutionary theory, historical geology, paleoecology, and climate change’s impact on evolution. You’ll leave the course understanding the science behind dinosaur extinction theories, the development of human life, and the history of life on Earth.

Typical Class Size: 18

Testing and Prerequisites

  Math Verbal
Required Level Advanced CTY-Level Not required
Check your eligibility using existing test scores If you do not have existing test scores:

Students must achieve qualifying scores on an advanced assessment to be eligible for CTY programs. If you don’t have qualifying scores, you have several different testing options. We’ll help you find the right option for your situation.

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Cost and Financial Aid

  • Tuition
    • Varies
  • Application fee
    • Nonrefundable Application Fee - $50 (Waived for financial aid applicants)
    • Nonrefundable International Fee - $250 (outside US only)

Financial Aid is available

We are committed to serving all talented youth regardless of financial circumstances. Financial assistance is available based on need.

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Course Materials

Please acquire all course materials by the course start date. If you have questions about these materials or difficulty locating them, please contact ctyinfo@jhu.edu.

Course Extras (Lab fee info, etc): Lab and Field Trip Fee: $225

Sample Reading

These titles have been featured in past sessions of the course, and may be included this summer. CTY provides students with all texts; no purchase is required.

  • Introduction to Paleobiology and the Fossil Record, Michael J. Benton and David A. T. Harper

About Science and Engineering at CTY

Explore space and our planet

In our Introduction to Astronomy course, we’ll visit a nearby observatory or planetarium, see what the cosmos looks like through various spectra, and immerse ourselves in the science and technology that bring the universe closer to home. In Marine Ecology, we’ll visit local wetlands and tidepools, observe flora and fauna, collect water samples and analyze them for clues about their health and humans’ impact. And in The Global Environment, we will explore the human impact on our environment and generate proposals for addressing climate change.

Bond over chemistry

Our chemistry courses help you see the world differently, starting at the atomic level. The Edible World gives budding chefs and science lovers a glimpse into the chemical reactions that happen when we make food, and the chemical makeup of meals and treats we eat every day. In our Crystals and Polymers course, we’ll synthesize slime, grow rock candy, and isolate strawberry DNA to learn about the molecular structure of naturally occurring gems and human-produced plastics. In Chemistry in Society, we’ll consider how the chemicals in products can both enhance and degrade the world around us; produce biodiesel in a lab to understand alternative fuels; and prepare aspirin to learn about the healing and toxic properties of pharmaceuticals.

Meet our instructors and staff