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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Srebrenica Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs countermeasure at UN More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prisoni
X
Heather Murdock
July 01, 2015 8:59 PM
As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harry Wayne Casey – “KC” of KC and the Sunshine Band – comes to VOA’s Studio 4 to talk with "Border Crossings" host Larry London and perform songs from his new album, “Feeling You! The 60s.”