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.
TEXT SIZE - +
— 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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Beyond Category

Saxophonist Craig Handy has an exciting new band called 2nd Line Smith, which combines the organ-jazz repertoire of Jimmy Smith with the “second line” rhythms of New Orleans parade music. Craig Handy joins "Beyond Category" host Eric Felten at Washington’s Bohemian Caverns jazz club to talk about the music and perform with the band.