Browse Q?rius School Programs

Students examine a human skull during a Forensic Mysteries school program in the Q?rius Lab.

Students examine a skull during a Forensic Mysteries school program in the Q?rius Lab. Smithsonian photo NHB2013-02810 by James Di Loreto.

Q?rius school programs are available onsite for Grades 6-12. For students nationwide, we offer the Smithsonian Science How webcasts. We also offer programs in Q?rius jr. for students in Grades K-8.

We offer six school programs onsite on weekdays between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., from October through June. Click a link to jump to a program description below. 

Bird Strike Whodunit? Biology, Environmental Science, Ornithology 6-12
Dig  Deep Geology, Earth Science 6-12
Forensic Mysteries - A Grizzly Discovery Anthropology, Forensic Science 6-12
Forensic Mysteries - Mystery at Yorktown Creek Anthropology, Forensic Science, Social Studies 6-12
Q?rius Collections Challenge Biology, Ecology, Life Science, Social Studies 6-12
Reefs Unleashed Biology, Earth Science, Environmental Science 6-12

Q?rius – pronounced curious – is a new way to connect science with everyday experience. Located at the Constitution Avenue Lobby entrance of the National Museum of Natural History, Q?rius is a large, physical space rich with educational science activities, collection objects, and resources designed to engage students with one-of-a-kind science learning experiences. Plan your museum trip for school groups, scouts, home-school students, members of 4-H clubs, or science clubs by reviewing all of the opportunities available on this page.

Download the Teacher's Guide to Q?rius


Q?rius School Programs at the Museum

All school programs are led by Museum staff, created for Grades 6-12, and designed to keep students on task for 60 minutes.

How to Register:

Go to the school programs registration page, choose your date and time, click the "Sign Up" button, and on the registration form select the program you want. 


Bird Strike Whodunit?
Students follow in the footsteps of a Smithsonian scientist to solve the mystery of which kinds of birds brought down a 747 jet airplane. During this staff-led program, students examine the bird fragments and feathers collected from the affected aircraft and simulate processing DNA from these samples. Students will understand how bird strike data is used by aircraft engineers to design better engines, how airport managers use the data to alter airfield habitats to discourage bird use, and how pilots use data to avoid flying where birds congregate.
(15 to 35 students) Download Field Trip Guide | Register Your Group

Dig Deep
During this staff-led program, students collaborate with classmates to identify the most efficient way to find and dig for iron ore by learning to read the stories of rocks and uses modeling techniques employed by Smithsonian scientists. Students will hone their skills by identifying geologic features in rocks, reading geologic maps, piecing together drill cores, and analyzing tectonic forces and their effects on layers of rocks. As as a class they will compete in groups to find the extent of the natural resource most efficiently.
(15 to 35 students) Download Field Trip Guide | Register Your Group

Forensic Mysteries - A Grizzly Discovery
A group of hikers stumbled across what looks like human remains. Have they found a crime scene or could there be another explanation? During this staff-led program, students will examine real human bones, objects and artifacts using the forensic tools and techniques of Smithsonian scientists to determine age, sex, time since death, and maybe even cause of death.
(15 to 35 students) Download Field Trip Guide | Register Your Group

Forensic Mysteries - Mystery at Yorktown Creek
Erosion along a creek bed produces a startling discovery – a human skeleton! Before the clues are washed away forever, students will get the chance to examine the evidence collected by the archaeologist during this staff-led program. Using the forensic tools and techniques of Smithsonian scientists, they will study the human bones and artifacts found with the skeleton to determine who this person was, when they lived, and what their life might have been like. Uncover the mystery of a person whose burial could turn out to be over 200 years old!
(15 to 30 students) Download Field Trip Guide | Register Your Group

Q?rius Collections Challenge
The Q?rius Collection Zone includes 6,000 natural history objects, all accessible for student exploration in this staff-led program. Working in teams, students will receive a Collections Challenge Card, which describes a theme and assigns them to work in one of the Museum’s departments: Anthropology, Botany, Entomology, Invertebrate Zoology, Paleobiology, Mineral Sciences, or Vertebrate Zoology. Like curators and collections managers at the Museum, students will follow particular protocols for handling special and sometimes delicate objects and agree upon a strategy to find objects to start a collection of their own.
(15 to 30 students) | Register Your Group

Reefs Unleashed
During this staff-led program, students explore how Smithsonian scientists Chris Meyer and Nancy Knowlton measure the biodiversity of coral reefs using nondestructive methods. Students will be faced with the real challenges of a NMNH ocean scientist to measure biodiversity in coral reefs beyond what can be seen with the naked eye. They will model the same scientific processes used by our scientists by exploring images of plates with the actual organisms that live in the ARMS, studying DNA barcodes, and analyzing percent coverage on plates. Through a guided discussion, students will connect the need to understand the biodiversity of our largest ecosystem and the human connections to the health of the ocean. Read a Blog Post About the Program
(15 to 35 students) Download Field Trip Guide | Register Your Group

Q?rius School Programs Online

Smithsonian Science How Webcasts
Bring a Smithsonian Scientist into your classroom with Smithsonian Science How, a live television-style program streamed through the web that takes questions from your students. The 25-minute program features the research and personalities of the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, providing your students with positive STEM role models, information about science careers and pathways, and more! Smithsonian Science How delivers real-world science through free, live webcasts and teaching resources.
Learn More | Register Your Group

Q?rius jr. – A Discovery Room Program

35-45 minute program, staff supported for Grades K-8

In Q?rius jr. – A Discovery Room, 15 to 30 students at a time practice their scientific inquiry skills as they interact with objects from the Museum’s collections. Programs are developed from exhibition themes and emphasize comparing and contrasting objects, closely examining specimens such as fossils, skulls, and shells, then using evidence to draw conclusions.

Learn MoreRegister Your Group