Posts Tagged ‘family tours’

To Track an Animal, You Need to Look For…

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Yes, we’re going there. The topic that makes everyone giggle. Take a deep breath and here we go:


You would think that such a silly subject wouldn’t be something Smithsonian scientists would bother studying, but they do. Scientists at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. keep a close eye on the animals, from the food they eat to the end result. It provides information that is vital to nutrition, reproduction efforts for animal conservation, and the overall health of the animal. Plus, when you are working with certain animals, it’s better to keep them at a distance. That’s why taking samples of their waste is the easiest way to keep an eye on our animal friends.

You can learn more about these scientists by watching SciQ: Poo on the Smithsonian Channel.


But tracking an animal in the wild is a different story. When it isn’t living in a zoo, and there’s a vast amount of land to cover, how do you even start looking for an animal? In that situation, finding a few droppings can really help narrow your search. Remember, when you are on safari in Africa, look for the poo.

Our Tanzania Family Safari is a great tour for adventure, exploration, and a lot of giggling by people of all ages.

Be honest, did this blog post make you giggle?

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!

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010
Kids will make plenty of new friends at Destination Smithsonian. Photo: Smithsonian Associates

Kids will make plenty of new friends at Destination Smithsonian. Photo: Smithsonian Associates

 At some point, every child has to write an essay on what they did during their summer vacation. What will your child say? This year, we are introducing Destination Smithsonian - vacation packages that bring families to Washington, DC. Both parents and kids have a unique chance to explore the museums at their own pace. In the morning, kids ages 9 through 12 have a great time during hands-on workshops led by top educators while parents explore the Smithsonian independently. After lunch, families explore the museums together with our Smithsonian experts. Imagine the dinner table conversations at the end of that day!

Exploring Extremes: From the Ocean Floor to Outer Space is a unique opportunity to explore some of our iconic objects in our museums, such as our Ocean Hall at the National Museum of Natural History and Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Vega at the National Air and Space Museum. Kids can visit our famous Giant Pandas, Mei Xian and Tian Tian, at the National Zoo. But families also have the extraordinary opportunity to see nature at work at our lesser known Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater, Maryland. Here, kids will become scientists while learning about our treasured Chesapeake Bay.

Every child should have the chance to experience our nation’s capital, and doing it with Smithsonian creates an experience that families will treasure long after summer’s over.

Learn more about Exploring Extremes: From the Ocean Floor to Outer Space.

How old were you when you first visited the Smithsonian Institution?

World Heritage: Grand Canyon National Park

Monday, November 16th, 2009

In a country with such natural beauty and diversity it is no wonder that three U.S. National Parks have been declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites—Yellowstone, Yosemite and Grand Canyon. Grand Canyon National Park, one of the world’s earliest, was designated as such in 1919 and as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.

A 1938 poster advertising travel to the Grand Canyon. Image: Library of Congress.

A 1938 poster depicting the Grand Canyon. Image: Library of Congress.

The Grand Canyon National Park boasts stunning vistas that even the best photographs can’t adequately capture. About the size of Delaware, but located in Arizona, the park is big enough to contain exposed rock that as old as two billion years and has enough diverse microclimates that people can be hiking through snowdrifts and sunbathing on the river bank on the same day.

John Wesley Powell is credited with leading the first passage through the Grand Canyon in 1869 on the Powell Geographic Expedition. Powell, a U.S. soldier and trained geologist, explored the Colorado River and the surrounding areas, gathering information and providing recommendations to developers back east. The extremely rugged and remote landscape of the area prevented major agricultural development, but made it a top-notch destination for intrepid outdoor explorers and athletes. Even so, only 3.3 percent of the terrain has been surveyed by archeologists, who continue to look for more evidence from groups who once inhabited the area. Carbon dating indicates that some artifacts found there date from as far back as 2900 B.C. It is thought that people have lived in the area for at least 8,000 years.

The Havasupai, who are native to the area, continue to live there in Supai village and the surrounding lands; their rock art decorates the nearby cliffs. Today, the park hosts more than four million tourists each year, who walk the trails, climb the cliffs, photograph the scenery, row the river, explore by helicopter, and revel in the grandeur of the Canyon.

What’s your favorite National Park and why? Share below.

Take your family to the Grand Canyon this summer. Join us in June 2010 for an exploration of the park.

Smithsonian Journeys also travels to Yosemite, Yellowstone, Big Bend, and Glacier National Parks. Click  for details.

There is a new mini-series on PBS by Ken Burns about our National Parks. Click to learn more.

Family Adventure at the Smithsonian

Friday, June 12th, 2009
The 1903 Wright Flyer changed aviation forever. Photo: National Air and Space Museum

The 1903 Wright Flyer changed aviation forever. Photo: National Air and Space Museum

Join Smithsonian Journeys on our special insider’s tour for families and see the setting of Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian up close and personal. Click here for more information on our exclusive family weekend here at the Smithsonian Institution. Highlights include dinner with Amelia Earhart, an early-morning IMAX screening of the movie, and a museum treasure hunt. And, for your viewing pleasure, click here for the trailer.

Click here to read Smitshonian magazine articles about the making of the film, interviews, and more.