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The Q? Blog

Q?rius Welcomes the National Science Teachers Association

by Dan Kulpinski -- Jul 29, 2014
Dan Kulpinski

Dan Kulpinski is managing producer of the Q?rius website.

NSTA members crowd the Collections Zone to examine the some of the 6,000 objects in Q?rius. Photo by Smithsonian Institution.
NSTA members crowd the Collections Zone to examine the some of the 6,000 objects in Q?rius. Photo by Smithsonian Institution.

The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) members who came to the Q?rius open house July 18 were like kids in a candy store. They peered through the microscopes at bees and sand grains, listened to and created insect karaoke, tapped their way through an interactive touchscreen activity about coral reef dwellers, sniffed scents and guessed what made them, and held and examined most of the 6,000 biological, geological, and anthropological objects in the Margaret A. Cargill Collections Zone. Well, at least it seemed like they looked at most of the objects, because the Collections Zone sure was busy.

“One hundred science teachers -- you’ll never get them out of here,” one educator from Michigan predicted after telling me how much she loved Q?rius, the museum’s new interactive science learning space.

The Collections Zone was the most popular area, winning a plurality in my informal, totally unscientific exit poll. “I felt like looking at the collections stimulated my curiosity,” said Kelly Taylor of the Kentucky State Teachers Association. Others said they liked the freedom to explore more than 120 drawers full of objects. Rebecca Bray, chief of experience development at the museum, talks with an NSTA member. Photo by Smithsonian Institution.

Some visitors registered for online Q?rius accounts with their “Q-card” (each with a unique QR code) to earn stars in the touchscreen activities and add media to their digital Q?rius field books.

The visitors could also take part in a Forensic Mysteries lab program, one of six regular staff-led programs offered free to visiting school groups (sign up is first-come, first-served starting August 4). They could also watch a demo of a Smithsonian Science How? talk show and meet with the science program’s producers and host to discuss how best to use this live video resource delivered via the web in the classroom. Q?rius volunteers were on hand to explain the various activities and collection objects.

The NSTA educators learned that Q?rius offers a range of program options for teachers and their students. Teachers coming to the museum with classes of up to 35 students can register for 60-minute, staff-led school programs held during the academic year between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Monday through Friday. For those who can’t visit the museum with their classes, the second season of Smithsonian Science How? live, interactive webcasts will feature student Q&As with 11 Smithsonian scientists starting Oct. 8, 2014. Season One shows are available in the webcast archive. (Q?rius is open to the public daily; learn more about Q?rius here.) NSTA members explore Q?rius during the open house. Photo by Smithsonian Institution.

“The whole thing is awesome. I really like the ‘Science How’ webcasts. I’m taking that back and investigating (implementing) that,” said Diana Cost, a master teacher fellow at the Global Learning Charter school in New Bedford, Mass.

Learn more about visiting Q?rius. If you’ve already been to Q?rius, let us know how what you thought in the comments section below.

Categories: Q?rius News