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

Students should bring basic school supplies like pens, notebooks, and folders to their summer program. You will be notified of any additional items needed before the course begins. All other materials will be provided by CTY.

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 the world with our field science courses

Our field science courses let you explore the wonders of the world: in Marine Ecology, you’ll visit local wetlands and tidepools, observe flora and fauna, collect water samples and analyze them for clues about their health and humans’ impact. In our Introduction to Astronomy course, you’ll visit a nearby observatory or planetarium, see what the cosmos looks like through various spectra, and immerse yourself in the science and technology that bring the universe closer to home. And in our Paleobiology course, you’ll visit dig sites, tar pits, and museums, exploring fossils, the prehistoric environments that these ancient creatures inhabited, and the ways modern life forms have evolved through the ages.

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, you’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, you’ll consider how the chemicals in products can both enhance and degrade the world around us. You’ll 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