Latest Posts

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.

Learning to Love Microscopic Fossils

When I think of paleobiology, my brain automatically screams “dinosaurs,” but if there is one thing I learned this summer it is that there is more to the Department of Paleobiology than giant Triceratops skulls and ancient T. rex teeth....Read more
Tags: fossil
YES! intern Gabe peers into a microscope and sees ostracods, right, a type of microscopic marine fossil. Photos by YES! intern Gabe, Smithsonian.

Teens Explore Forensic Anthropology in 'Mystery at Yorktown Creek'

Erosion along a creek bed in Yorktown, Va., exposed something startling: a human skeleton! Scientists excavated the bones to prevent them from being washed away and destroyed, then brought them to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History to be analyzed by our forensic anthropologists. Who was this person, when did he or she live, and what can we learn about his or her life?...Read more
Q?rius volunteer Victor Guerrero shows students a human jawbone during the "Forensic Mysteries: Mystery at Yorktown Creek" school program. Photo by Jennifer Renteria, Smithsonian.

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