Posts Tagged ‘family programs’

A Day in the Land of Gods & Heroes

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

Kris Trego, Smithsonian Journeys Study LeaderKris Trego is an assistant professor of classics at Bucknell University. For the past 11 years, she has spent her summers working with the Institute of Nautical Archaeology excavating ancient shipwrecks off the coast of Turkey. Additionally, Kris lectures and publishes on narrative and rhetorical techniques used by ancient Greek and Roman authors.  This summer, Kris led a Journeys family cruise adventure tour around Italy’s beautiful coastline, visiting some of the ancient world’s most remarkable and best preserved Greek and Roman sites. See her post from the trip below:

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For the rest of the world it may have been a normal Thursday morning, but for those of us aboard the Corinthian II the day had brought wonder, adventure, and exuberant joy. After disembarking from our ship, which was anchored in the caldera off the cliffs of Santorini, the adults spent the morning exploring the Bronze Age site of Akrotiri. This site had been buried in darkness for thousands of years by the violent eruption of the Thira volcano that created the caldera, and we walked in hushed awe over the ancient

A Bronze Age fresco of a fisherman in Akrotiri on the Greek island of Santorini

A Bronze Age fresco of a fisherman in Akrotiri. (Image courtesy of Wikipedia.)

streets that had been brought back into the light. We looked into the houses, abandoned eons ago by their caretakers, strewn with pottery that lay were it fell when the inhabitants fled the island, warned by earthquakes of the impending eruption.

As we explored the results of the volcano’s past, the Young Explorers from Corinthian II traversed its living presence. The Young Explorers hiked to Nea Kameni, the volcano at the center of the caldera, and felt the heat still rising from the ground. The groups, young and adult, reunited for a delectable lunch on Santorini perched high on the cliffs overlooking the caldera. Breathless stories of riding the donkeys up the cliffs, feeling the steam from the volcano, and marveling at the colorful and detailed frescoes from Akrotiri at the museum were shared over an endless array of Greek dishes. Our laughter echoed down the cliffs, and our smiles rivaled the sun for their brilliance. Could this day be any more amazing, we wondered? After exploring the island a bit more that afternoon, we returned to the Corinthian II for dinner, which never failed to delight with exquisite flavors. But the adventure was not over for the day yet! After sailing out of the caldera, the captain found a calm, sapphire blue anchorage, and we went for a pre-dinner dip in the Aegean from the ship’s stern. The sun sparkled on the waters, and the waters responded with twinkling reflections, all flashing over the faces of the splashing, laughing bathers. Over dinner, we talked of how we shared many adventures over the course of the trip and how we transformed from fellow adventurers into friends, as we sailed through these lands of gods and heroes. Each day brought new sites, new tastes, and new reasons to smile and laugh.


Santorini. (Photo by Kris Trego.)

Smithsonian Journeys Group, Italy

Smithsonian Journeys group. (Photo by John Frick.)

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Kris will be leading two upcoming trips this fall and coming spring. Check them out here:

The Laboratory on the Ocean Floor

Monday, April 19th, 2010

We’ve mentioned before that Smithsonian scientists love studying extremes. But how about living in extreme conditions? To study the bottom of the ocean properly, you would actually have to live down there.

What do you eat? How do make your meals? Where do you get fresh water? Just as astronauts have made adjustments to their lifestyles while they are in space, scientists studying the ocean are pretty adaptable as well.

Paula Lemyre, reporting from Smithsonian Channel’s SciQ, visited the ocean floor (63 feet down) and had 30 minutes to interview and record this story. Any more time on the bottom, and Paula and her crew would face a very painful experience called “the bends” due to the reduction in pressure as they returned to sea level. Also known as decompression sickness, during the bends the body releases dissolved gas (mostly nitrogen) from the tissues and blood. As a result, bubbles are created within the circulation system and create disruptions throughout the human body. Symptoms can range from mild, dull toothache-like pain to the more serious including shock and seizures. Luckily, today we know the gradual ascension steps to avoid these kinds of situations.

Learn more about living underwater on the Smithsonian Channel’s SciQ.

Experience the Ocean Hall at Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

Would you want to live underwater? Share Below.

It’s Cherry Blossom Season!

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

Cherry blossoms frame the Jefferson Memorial in spring. Photo by Laura Campbell

There is nothing like walking around near the Jefferson Memorial when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. The entire area is coated in various shades of pink, giving everyone in Washington, D.C. the sense that spring has finally arrived. But how many trees are there? Where did they come from? These are the kinds of questions that kids tend to ask their parents every year. Again, we’re here to provide you with the important fun facts that satisfy your child (or grandchild’s) thirst for knowledge.

1. In Japan, the flowering cherry tree, or “Sakura,” is an exalted flowering plant. The beauty of the cherry blossom epitomizes the transformation of Japanese culture throughout the ages, as well as being symbolic of the constant transition of human life.

2. The original 3,000 cherry blossom trees were a gift from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo in 1912 as a symbol of the longstanding friendship between Japan and the United States.

3. The First Lady at the time was Helen Herron Taft. She and the Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese ambassador, planted the first two trees from Japan on the north bank of the Tidal Basin in West Potomac Park on March 27, 1912. These two original trees still stand several hundred yards west of the John Paul Jones Memorial, located at the terminus of 17th Street, SW. Situated near the bases of the trees is a large bronze plaque which commemorates the occasion.

4. Three years later, in 1915, the United States reciprocated the gift of the cherry trees by sending flowering dogwoods to the people of Japan.

5. In 1965, the Japanese Government donates 3,800 more trees. These are American-grown and the 1912 ceremony reenacted this time by Lady Bird Johnson and Mrs. Ryuji Takeuchi, wife of Japan’s Ambassador.

Visit the original homeland of the trees on Insider’s Japan.

Have you seen the cherry blossoms in full bloom in Washington, D.C.? Share below.

Celebrating 100 Years at the National Museum of Natural History

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

There are some iconic images that come to mind when thinking of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History: The Hope Diamond, the famous elephant in the rotunda, and the Dinosaur Hall. Generations of students have walked the halls on field trips taking in natural history, environmental science, and more recently, advanced forensic science. As we learn more about the world around us, the National Museum of Natural History attempts to educate all of us about the new scientific advances that help learn more about climate change and evolution.

This video from the Smithsonian Channel gives a small peek into the vast collection accumulated throughout the decades. Even more impressive are the photos from the archives that show how the museum changed the landscape of the city way before any of the other museums were built. As the most visited museum in the United States, the museum is considered a must-see, no matter what your age.


Visit Washington, D.C. with your child or grandchild on our Destination Smithsonian!: Exploring Extremes program.

When was the last time you visited the National Museum of Natural History? Share Below.

Photo: Exploring Extremes

Monday, March 15th, 2010
Earth from Apollo 17. NASA Image #AS17-148-22727

Earth from Apollo 17. NASA Image #AS17-148-22727

Scientists at the Smithsonian love to study extremes. From animals to space travel, we love learning about the biggest, fastest, largest, and highest. Most of us started learning quirky science facts when we were kids and our fascination never went away. That’s why we’ve  introduced our new Destination Smithsonian!: Exploring Extremes: From the Ocean Floor to Outer Space for families with kids ages 9 -12. In case you need to inspire your little scientist, here are five fun facts you can share when you are visiting the National Air and Space Museum.

1. Applesauce was the first food ever eaten by an American astronaut in space. John Glenn ate the yummy snack from an aluminum tube during the Mercury mission in 1962. Today, the astronauts have a pantry-style food system on the International Space Station with foods labeled in Russian and English.

2. Astronauts orbiting Earth see up to 16 sunrises and sunsets every day- one about every 90 minutes.

3. From Earth you always look at the same side of the moon. In 1959, the Soviet Union sent a spacecraft called Luna 3 around the side of the moon that faces away from Earth and took the first photographs.

4. Astronauts’ footprints stay on the moon forever because there is no wind to blow them away. This means Neil Armstrong’s “One Small Step” is still there along with a 2-foot wide panel studded with 100 mirrors pointing at Earth: the “lunar laser ranging retroreflector array.” Apollo 11 astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong put it there on July 21, 1969, about an hour before the end of their final moonwalk. Thirty-five years later, it’s the only Apollo science experiment still running.

5. On Jupiter, there is a hurricane that was discovered in the early 17th century, and it’s still going! Since there is no land mass to slow it down, the energy continues to churn in the atmosphere, forcing the “Great Red Spot” to keep spinning for many years to come.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Check out our NEW family package Destination Smithsonian!: Exploring Extremes: From Ocean Floor to Outer Space this summer in Washington, DC!