The Q? Blog

Tiffany is a high school intern at the Museum who learned how to identify plants using DNA barcoding and genetic sequencing. Photo from Smithsonian Institution.
Tiffany is a high school intern at the Museum who learned how to identify plants using DNA barcoding and genetic sequencing. Photo from Smithsonian Institution.

Teen Science Spotlight: How to Identify Fossil Plants

Tiffany is a high school student from Maryland who has been a Youth Engagement through Science (YES!) intern at the Museum for three years – one in the Fossil Lab in the Department of Paleobiology and two in the Genome Program, where she spent one year in the Department of Botany and another in the Department of Inverterbrate Zoology. For one of her projects she collected plants from Plummer’s Island, Md., and learned how to identify them using...Read more
Tags: fossil, teens

Latest Posts

Ancient Island Trash becomes Treasure for Archaeologists

Did Native Americans and other people who lived thousands of years ago influence the biodiversity around them? Islands are a great place to answer that question. Like fishbowls, islands have fewer inputs from the outside, so it is easier to interpret changes on the inside. Archaeologists studying islands learn how humans interacted with natural resources by digging for clues. Tools and cooking pots may reveal what people ate. But, the most...Read more
You may be parked next to your ancestors’ trash, such as these layers of oyster shells discarded by humans living in the Chesapeake Bay hundreds to thousands of years ago. Photo from Smithsonian Institution.

Fall into Q?rius with Our October Programs

Fossils, oceans, and genome geeks — October is jam-packed with events for science fans of all kinds. Come geek out with us! Unless otherwise noted, all events are free and take place in Q?rius, the interactive science learning space on the ground floor of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. New event listings and cancellations can pop up at any time, so check the Upcoming Events calendar for the most current information. Oct. 2...Read more
A crab sits entangled in a nylon net. Join us for Lessons From Our Lives With Plastic, a presentation and discussion on Oct. 21. Photo from NOAA.

Journey Back through Time on National Fossil Day, October 15

Fossils can help us imagine things from the past we cannot see in front of us. They can tell us how an ancient plant or animal lived or moved, how groups of organisms evolved, and how organisms relate to each other. They also help us recreate from long ago what an ancient environment looked like, the players in a food web, and the climate of a particular time and place. Fossils can be as big as a T. rex or as small as a grain of pollen, but...Read more
Tags: fossil
This fossil Triceratops skull was found in Montana. Photo from Smithsonian Institution.

Late September Events in Q?rius: Tattoos, Insects, and More!

This month our events feature tattoos, bumble bees, fungi, and more. All events are free, unless otherwise noted, and take place in Q?rius, the interactive science learning space on the ground floor of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. New event listings and cancellations can pop up at any time, so check the Upcoming Events calendar for the most current information. Sept. 9 - Oct. 14 – Tattoo Universe , an Art-Science Workshop...Read more
Tags: pollinator
A bumblebee feeds on the nectar and pollen of a flower. Help us transcribe bumblebee records on September 20. Smithsonian photo by Rosa Pineda.

Students Learn How to Solve a Forensic Mystery in 'A Grizzly Discovery'

A group of hikers stumbles across a human skull in the woods of West Virginia. There was a report of a missing 65-year-old woman from a nearby town – could this be her skull? To find out, the bones are sent to the forensic anthropologists at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History for analysis and identification. The experts solved the mystery, and now your students can learn forensic techniques and see if they can reach the same...Read more
Students discuss how to analyze human bones during the "Forensic Mysteries - A Grizzly Discovery" school program in  Q?rius. Smithsonian photo NHB2013-02793 by James Di Loreto.

Dinosaurs Were Just the Tip of the Iceberg

We’ve all fantasized about living in a world where dinosaurs roam the Earth, a place like Jurassic Park, rife with the perils and excitement of living amongst these odd creatures. While it’s safer for us now, what a shame that birds are the only living descendants of the dinosaurs that walked on two legs and included the infamous T. rex . About 66 million years ago, T. rex and other large dinosaurs disappeared from Earth suddenly. Their demise...Read more
Late Cretaceous scene. Depiction by Mary Parrish, Smithsonian.

'Dig Deep': Teaching Students How to Locate Geologic Resources

Most of us don’t look at a phone, a car, or a building and think, “Where on Earth did they find the materials to build that?” Even if we do think about how something is made, we focus mainly on the technology and engineering required, not necessarily where those materials came from. With the help of Smithsonian geologists Ben Andrews , Michael Wise and Tim Rose , we developed the “ Dig Deep ” school program to break this habit and dive into the...Read more
Students apply their new skills to solve the final challenge in the “Dig Deep” school program. Smithsonian photo NHB2014-01468 by Leah M. McGlothern.

Back to School with 'Reefs Unleashed'

How many species live below the surface of the ocean and how do scientists count them? With so many rocks, corals, and other crevices, there are a million places for creatures to hide! In our “Reefs Unleashed” school program, visiting students explore these questions as they consider the importance of measuring biodiversity in coral reefs. "Reefs Unleashed" is one of six staff-led Q?rius school programs for grades 6-12 offered at the Smithsonian...Read more
Tags: reef
Middle school students examine an Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structure, or "reef hotel," during a "Reefs Unleashed" school program. Photo by Smithsonian Institution.

Butterflies and Moths, Oh My!

One of the topics that fascinates visitors of all ages in the Margaret A. Cargill Collections Zone is butterflies. The butterflies are some of the most-viewed objects in Q?rius. Visitors love getting a close-up look at the pretty creatures, pointing out the diversity of colors, and even zooming in on the details using the microscopes. There are at least three places where butterflies and moths can be found in Q?rius. First, there is the great...Read more
Colorful butterflies, including the giant blue morpho (bottom right), are on display in Case A in the Q?rius Loft. Photo by Smithsonian Institution.

Q?Crew Teen Volunteers: Helping Visitors Explore Q?rius

We spend a lot of time talking about how Q?rius is so awesome because of all of the amazing technology in the space, the incredible opportunities to chat with real, live Smithsonian experts, and the chance to explore objects from the collection up close and personal. And all of those things are pretty spectacular. But the heart of Q?rius is the Q?Crew , a group of dynamic teen volunteers who have dedicated their summer vacations to helping...Read more
Tags: teens
A Q?Crew teen volunteer, right, helps visitors learn what’s inside some of the rocks in Q?rius. Photo by Smithsonian Institution.

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