2021 Workshops and Demonstrations

Workshop and attendance is free with your registration for the Annual Meeting. However, you MUST register for these workshops by following the link you receive in your registration confirmation email. Spaces are limited!

This page will be updated daily to indicate which workshops are full. However, recordings of the workshops will be available to all registrants, on the Gather platform, for one week after the Meeting.

UPDATE (April 19): The recordings are taking longer to edit than we thought. All registrants will receive an email and the website will be updated when they're posted. Thank you for your patience!

Beginner Level Workshops

Basics of Digital Preparation with Open Source Software-FULL

Level: Beginner

Leader: Anne Kort

CT scanning has become increasingly important in paleontology for preparation, research, and digital preservation. However, expensive software and a steep learning curve can prohibit newcomers from taking advantage of this versatile technology. In this workshop, we will teach participants how to process CT data from a beginner level using three free, open source software packages: 3D Slicer, Meshlab, and Blender. The resulting mesh can be used for a variety of methods like geometric morphometrics or finite element analysis, 3D printing, or sharing 3D data. Participants will learn:

  • Differences in formats of 3D data and how to choose a format

  • How to convert and resample CT data in Slicer

  • Tools for segmenting CT data in Slicer

  • How to export a 3D mesh from Slicer

  • Tools for cleaning meshes in Meshlab

  • Tools for viewing and reshaping meshes in Blender

Each participant will need a Windows or Macintosh computer with at least 8GB RAM. A dedicated graphics processor and 16GB (or more) of RAM are recommended for better performance. The computer should have Slicer, Meshlab, and Blender preinstalled.

https://download.slicer.org/   (download the stable release)

https://www.blender.org/ 

http://www.meshlab.net/ 

This will be an interactive workshop with attendee hands-on participation.

Maximum number of participants per session: 8

Duration of session: 2 hours

Number of sessions: 2

Cavity Mounts

Level: Beginner

Leader: Alan Zdinak

Pre-recorded videos (already on the AMMP YouTube Channel) demonstrate creating cavity mounts for long term fossil specimen storage. Basic and advanced cavity mount techniques are covered. This workshop will provide an opportunity for participants to interact with the workshop leader in a live question and answer session.

This will be a demonstration with voice and/or text interaction.

Maximum number of participants per session: 100

Duration of session: 1 hour

Number of sessions: 1

Paleo SciComm: Bringing the Science to the Public-FULL

Level: Beginner

Leaders: David Moscato and Dr. Chris Widga

Educating the public about the work of the scientific community is an essential service we must embrace. This workshop will begin with a presentation by Dr. Chris Widga and David Moscato, who will present the science communication initiatives being used at the Gray Fossil Site to bring the science of the lab and field to the general public. Following this will be an open discussion where participants can ask questions, seek advice, share their own successes, and discuss the best practices for science communication in paleontology. 

This will be a demonstration with voice and/or text interaction.

Maximum number of participants per session: 40 

Duration of session: 2 hours

Number of sessions: 1

Plaster Basics and More-FULL

Level: Beginner

Leader: Vicki Yarborough

Having plaster problems? Creating strong plaster involves more science than most people realize. This workshop investigates three different types of plasters and gypsum cements (DAP plaster of Paris, USG Hydrocal FGR 95, and USG Hydrocal White) to demonstrate the steps required to produce “good” plaster and some of the pitfalls to avoid that result in “bad” plaster. This workshop will help you choose the right plaster for your project whether in the lab or the field. We will also demonstrate the proper way to mix plaster. Different types of plaster and gypsum cements have varying recommended plaster/water ratios, soaking times and mixing times to develop full set strength. All, however, share a similar process: Lightly sift the plaster into a clean container of clean water, allow it to soak undisturbed for a prescribed time, then energetically mix mechanically or by hand. Setting then takes place by exothermic chemical reaction. We’ll also discuss and demonstrate:

  • The best ways to avoid making weak plaster that can put your specimen at risk. 

  • How to adjust plaster viscosity to control set times and manipulate it to suit your goals. 

  • How temperature and humidity affect set time. 

  • Some of the different barrier materials to use between plaster and your specimen. 

  • Tools that can make your mixing and shaping plaster easy or a chore. 

  • How to add fresh plaster to set/dry plaster and have it adhere. 

  • Some materials and methods that can accelerate, slow, or inhibit setting, or result in weak plaster.

Finally, we will discuss a few health and safety concerns that are essential in keeping you (and your facility’s pipes!) safe.

Understanding how and why plaster does what it does and following the manufacturer’s instructions for the product you are using are keys to making consistently good plaster.

This workshop will be a demonstration with voice and/or text interaction.

Maximum number of participants per session: 40 

Duration of session: 2 hours

Number of sessions: 1

Plastic Screen Box Construction and Use-FULL

Level: Beginner

Leader: Shawn Haugrud

The workshop will begin with a brief introduction to the screening program at the Gray Fossil Site and the rigorous practices necessitated by its production goals and standards for data. 

We will then discuss the negative aspects of more traditional wooden screen boxes that led to us adopting the newer plastic design a few years ago.

We will demonstrate the many advantages of our newer designs and provide a materials list and step by step instructions for building them.

This will be a demonstration with voice and/or text interaction.

Maximum number of participants per session: 40

Duration of session: 1 hour

Number of sessions: 1

Your Volunteers and You: A Comprehensive Guide to Building and Maintaining a Strong Volunteer Base-FULL

Level: Beginner

Leaders: Hillary Cepress-McLean, Marcie Keller

Having a solid core of skilled paleontology volunteers working in a collections, exhibit, or lab space is a requirement for the success of a program. However, for some institutions or programs, that might be easier said than done. In this workshop, we will discuss multiple aspects of how to identify your volunteering needs, how to build relationships with your community to gain access to volunteer prospects, some basics on how to train and manage your volunteer group, what best retention practices are, and what to do if you are having conflicts with certain volunteers. The goal of this workshop is to provide some basic tips and tricks to hopefully inspire programs to build a volunteer core of their own or perhaps help modify an already existing group.

This workshop will be a demonstration with voice and/or text interaction.

Maximum number of participants per session: 20

Duration of session: 1 hours

Number of sessions: 2

Intermediate Level Workshops

Adhesives and Consolidants: Principles and Practice-FULL

Level: Intermediate

Leader: Gregory Brown

This workshop will cover basic principles of adhesives and consolidants and their properties to provide the necessary foundational understanding needed to guide your decision-making process in answering the following questions:

  • Is a consolidant/adhesive actually needed?

  • If so, which type is appropriate? Reaction (thermosets), solution (thermoplastics) or emulsion/dispersion?

  • Having made that decision, how do you then decide which of the many available products to use?

Once the basic principles and properties of these adhesive types are presented, we will provide more detail on various solution adhesives since they are the most commonly used in preparation. Finally, we will narrow our focus to Paraloid B-72 (an acrylic copolymer), regarded by conservators as one of the most stable and thoroughly tested polymers available for use as a consolidant and adhesive in conservation and preparation in many fields, including paleontology. Practical methods for the use of Paraloid B-72 will follow as a series of demonstrations including but not limited to the following topics:

  • The effect of solvent choice on solution working properties.

  • Good solvents and poor solvents and their effect on consolidant performance.

  • How to efficiently prepare mixtures to specified concentrations.

  • Various methods of application as a consolidant and an adhesive.

  • Glass transition temperature and its effect on the properties of solid (set) polymers.

  • Reversal of adhesive joins and manipulation of set joins by heat. 

  • The problems of polymer penetration, retention and migration.

This will be a demonstration with voice and/or text interaction.

Maximum number of participants per session: 40 

Duration of session: 2 hours

Number of sessions: 1

Advanced Storage Jacket Techniques

Level: Intermediate

Leader: Alan Zdinak

Well-designed storage jackets are an important component of any preventive conservation strategy. This workshop will feature a prerecorded video demonstrating ways of using polyethylene foam to reinforce storage jackets, different methods of fabricating liners, strategies for dealing with awkwardly shaped specimens, and designing rolling jackets. Participants will then be able to interact with the workshop leader in a live Q&A session. 

Prerequisite: prior instruction in or experience making clamshell style storage jackets.

This will be a demonstration with voice and/or text interaction. 

Maximum number of participants per session:  200

Duration of session: 1 hour 

Number of sessions: 1

Broken Bones: Materials and Methods for Backing and Gap Filling-FULL

Level: Intermediate

Leader: Marilyn Fox

This workshop will discuss when and why a preparator might want (or might not want) to support a glued join or fill a gap when fossil fragments are glued together. We will discuss kinds of joins, external supports and when those might be appropriate, why a gap might or might not be filled and with what materials, and different bone bandage materials. We will explore various materials that could be used as bone bandages (mulberry paper, fine fiberglass fabric, carbon fiber mesh) and discuss which might be best for a given project. Gap filling materials like adhesive mixed with matrix, cellulose powder or marble dust will also be explored. Participants will be mailed samples to use to follow examples at home.

This will be an interactive workshop with attendee hands-on participation.
Materials will be sent to registrants pre-meeting.

Maximum number of participants per session: 20 

Duration of session: 2 hours

Number of sessions: 1

Introduction to Butvar B-76 Webbing and Other Techniques-FULL

Level: Intermediate

Leader: Shawn Haugrud

The ability of Butvar B-76 in solution to form filaments presents an opportunity to use this polymer in creative ways. This workshop will begin with a discussion of material properties and will include a brief virtual tour covering the historical use of these techniques on specimens at the Gray Fossil Site. Participants will then be guided through several exercises creating and applying Butvar B-76 filler webbing to provided practice forms and learning basic application of simple webbing, 3-dimensional webbing, and sheeting.

Participants will receive a package with technical information, samples, and working materials to use during the virtual workshop. 3D printed Butvar B-76 mesh panels will also be supplied for practice application techniques. Participants should provide their own Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) suitable for working with solvent based adhesives.

This will be an interactive workshop with attendee hands-on participation.

Maximum number of participants per session: 20 

Duration of session: 2 hours

Number of sessions: 1


Advanced Level Workshops

Use of Micro-explosives (Ezebreak Micro-Blaster) at the Gray Fossil Site: A Miner’s Guide-FULL

Level: Advanced

Leader: Dr. Steven Wallace

This workshop will be a beginner’s “how to” for the Ezebreak system that is used to remove large limestone boulders from the Gray Fossil Site (GFS) and some of the many issues associated with those procedures. No prior experience is needed.

Topics to be presented include an overview of previous methods and a discussion of the pros and cons to the use of micro-explosives as well as a description (form and function) of all equipment used/needed for the Ezebreak system.

A step-by-step demonstration, including use of “live” cartridges, follows:

  • MSDS and manuals

  • General site preparations (description and reasoning)

  • Cartridge placement (single cartridge & head, multiple cartridges, multiple heads, and combinations)

  • Preparation and drilling

  • Cleaning of drill holes and associated preparation

  • Proper cartridge deployment

  • Proper head “seating”

  • Minimization of rock “throw”

  • Safety procedures prior to detonation

  • Proper detonation

  • Cleanup and removal

  • Protocol for “misfire”

A Question and Answer session for participants will wrap up the workshop. 

This will be a demonstration with voice and/or text interaction.

Maximum number of participants per session: 25

Duration of session: 2 hours

Number of sessions: 2

2021 Host Committee

Shawn Haugrud, Chair                                   

East Tennessee State University and Gray Fossil Site


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