News / Arts & Entertainment

Students Help Imagine Interactive Smithsonian Exhibit

Students Help Develop Hands-on Smithsonian Exhibiti
X
December 17, 2013 2:23 PM
American educators are struggling with how to get students interested in science. The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History is presenting one approach: a new, first-of-its-kind learning center for teens. Students from area schools helped develop this exhibit which fuses science and art. Teachers will be encouraged to bring their science students to the exhibit in the mornings, while the afternoons will be open to the public. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
— At the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, some students are learning about human bones, while others are making "alien" microcreatures. Friends Ben and Nate are looking at an insect through a microscope.

These young volunteers are among the first students to test a new interactive exhibit at the museum that is especially designed for their age group.

The learning center, called Q?rius (pronounced “curious”), features hands-on and multimedia displays to encourage active participation. The 925-square-foot space combines the newest technologies and scientific equipment with more than 6,000 museum objects, both real and digital.

Students from area schools helped develop the exhibit, which fuses science and art. Teachers will be encouraged to bring their science students to the exhibit in the mornings, while the afternoons will be open to the public.

Please touch

Many of today's testers already have their favorites.

Nate Reistetter, 13, likes exploring the specimen drawers.

“There was a cast of a dinosaur bone and you can scan the QR code [computerized bar code] on the computers and it will tell you all about where it was found and all sorts of stuff about it,” he said.

Addie Alexander, 12, is fascinated by the bee display.

“The bumble bee and the yellow bumble bee when they’re not under the microscope they look pretty much the same except one’s bigger than the other,” she said, “and then once they go under the microscope they look completely different.”

Sensory Stimulation

Ben Werb likes how free and open the learning center space is, and enjoys the display that engages participants on a sensory level.

“I didn’t actually think you could smell a butterfly,” he said, “but a butterfly kind of smells like tea.”

Engaging the senses -- smelling, touching, hearing -- is one of the exhibit’s primary goals. At one display, students use special objects to duplicate cricket sounds, and in a glass-enclosed forensic anthropology lab, students handle human bones.

Trained guides are on hand to explain the science behind forensic testing.

Mixing it up

Olivia Persons, 18, one of seven teens who helped develop the space, said the lab was her favorite display area.

“This gives a chance for the teens to go hands-on,” she said. “There is a lot of digital stuff, there is a lot of computer screens and touch screens, but in here they are actually able to touch real human bones.”

Shari Werb is director of education and outreach at the museum, and Ben’s mother. She said interaction between the scientists and the students was one of the key elements of the exhibit.

“Science is dynamic, science keeps changing and we want kids to be exposed to that,” she said. “So we created a space that would allow our scientists to come into the space and talk to students as well as bring some of the behind-the-scenes collections to the forefront so that people could handle them and do the kinds of work that our scientists do behind the scenes.”

Q?rius is also accessible online, allowing visitors to continue their experiments after they leave the museum.

And the center’s 100-seat theater is designed to host real time satellite feeds to and from research around the globe, allowing young scientists to interact with experts in the field.

The Q?rius learning center is a permanent exhibit that will evolve and adapt to keep its audience interested and engaged throughout the year.

You May Like

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

The Hamilton Live

Acclaimed jazz saxophonist Tia Fuller has made a name for herself appearing with such high-profile artists as Beyonce, Esperanza Spalding, and Terri Lyne Carrington. Tia and her quartet performed music from her CD “Angelic Warrior” on our latest edition of "The Hamilton Live."