Latest Posts

Stumbling Upon a New Species of Giant, Woolly Rat

How would you feel if you encountered a rat almost three feet long? Smithsonian’s Dr. Kristofer Helgen was overjoyed. The rat was discovered by Kris and other members of a BBC expedition team in a remote volcano in Papua New Guinea. They named it the Bosavi woolly rat, after its thick fur and its home on Mount Bosavi....Read more
Tags: mammal, DNA, species
The Giant Woolly rat was discovered in 2009 in a Papua New Guinea forest. Photo by Kris Helgen, Smithsonian.

A Unique Field-Trip Opportunity for Title I Middle Schools

For a limited time this spring, Google is providing financial assistance to make field trips to the National Museum of Natural History possible for middle-school students from Title I schools in the D.C. area. For teachers interested in bringing their class or entire grade to the museum for a field trip, this is a unique opportunity to do so....Read more
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Students handle real human bones in Q?rius during a Field Trip Day Sponsored by Google in 2015. Photo by Fiona Wilkinson, Smithsonian.

Can You Stop a Volcano?

Two D.C.-area teens and former Smithsonian interns, Camile and Luís, recently returned in search of answers to their questions about volcanoes. They met with geologist Dr. Ben Andrews, who studies volcanic processes, from the storage of magma to eruption....Read more
Luís and Camille learn about a piece of cave rock during their behind-the-scenes visit with Geologist Ben Andrews. Photo by Adam Blankenbicker, Smithsonian.

How Do Environmental Toxins Affect Your Bones?

Did you know that you look the way you do because of the environment you grew up in? Of course, the genes you inherited from your parents play a role in your appearance — genes for height, bone structure, hair, eyes, or dimples. But scientists who study bones are finding that environment matters, too....Read more
Tags: bone, toxin
Skeleton parts from the Smithsonian's physical anthropology collection. Smithsonian photo by Jennifer Renteria.

Quarry Geology: Following a Volcanologist to the Field

I recently had the opportunity to travel with five geologists to unique sites around the country to understand more about the diverse geologic history around us. We were observing rocks and landscapes to reveal evidence of what happened in Earth’s past. Each of these geologic sites was located at an active rock quarry, which provided unobstructed views of large rock faces and samples that we could collect to look at more closely....Read more
Active pit at White River Quarry in Enumclaw, Wash. The dark rocks on the bottom are old basalt lava flows, and the upper, lighter layer is formed of more recent deposits of volcanic ash. Smithsonian photo by Don Hurlbert.

Volunteering in Q?rius: Learning by Doing

As a Q?Crew teen volunteer I have not only improved my communication skills, but also in general learned about many different specimens such as orangutans, sharks, and especially rocks and minerals. There is a difference between learning about science communication at training and actually doing so with visitors....Read more
Q?Crew volunteer Connie sits at a rocks and minerals activity table in Q?rius. She uses inquiry-based learning techniques to help visitors analyze specimens. Photo by Melissa Cannon, Smithsonian.

My Favorite Specimen, the Pangolin

Pangolins are the only mammals with scales. I love showing the pangolin specimen to visitors because they often think it’s a reptile at first. It challenges everyone who looks at it to reevaluate his or her definition of a mammal. I like to use the pangolins to help Q?rius visitors make connections with other animals in the Museum....Read more
Q?Crew volunteer Ella holds a pangolin specimen in Q?rius. Photo by Melissa Cannon, Smithsonian.

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