Posts Tagged ‘smithsonian’

Where Were You During the Inauguration?

Monday, April 5th, 2010

Those of us who live in Washington, D.C. can state for a fact 2009′s Inauguration Day was a very cold one indeed. Compared to President Ronald Reagan’s Inauguration in 1981 when it was 55 degrees at noon, the Obama ceremony was shockingly cold at 28 degrees with a windchill of 11 at the time of his swearing-in.

But you never would have thought that looking at First Lady Michelle Obama. As millions watched on the National Mall, online, and on television sets around the world, she stood in her lemongrass-colored ensemble (designed by Cuban-American Isabel Toledo) throughout the day as if it weren’t freezing cold out there. Later that night, she changed into the gown created by 27-year-old designer Jason Wu and made her way around Washington, dancing at various balls into the wee hours.

So, where is the Jason Wu gown now? It’s in the National Museum of American History, along with other gowns donated by Mamie Eisenhower,  Jacqueline Kennedy, and Barbara Bush.

And for the record, the First Lady was fully aware of how cold it was on that night.

Get a behind-the-scenes experience on our Destination Smithsonian  programs, where you and your family will get up close and personal with objects in the Smithsonian’s various collections.

Where were you during the Inauguration Night? 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!

Video: Hollywood Auditions: Calling All Bugs!

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

We see them in movies all the time, and we all tend to squirm. Like in Indiana Jones, when Kate Capshaw is covered in creepy crawly bugs which would give most of us the heebie jeebies. Yet, there are professionals that love working with bugs, spiders and all of those other little critters that have more legs than we do. Entomologists study bugs while learning their behavior, habits, and how they work as a community.

The Smithsonian has studied some of the most common bugs in our backyards, including the everyday household ant. We may think they are simple little insects, but they actually create complex underground homes that include several spiraling caves into well-planned chambers. They communicate in a variety of ways, vibrating their bodies to let others know of food or danger. But there really is nothing like seeing the more exotic leaf-cutter ant in its own habitat, which you can do in Costa Rica. These ants create their nests by crawling up trees, carving out leaves, and then taking them back home. The leaves are then used to create compost to help feed the colony.

Paula, from our family show called SciQ on the Smithsonian Channel, was incredibly brave to complete this segment with a very special Hollywood actress named Rosie. If you are as brave as Paula, we’ve provided an opportunity for you to feed a tarantula at our O. Orkin Insect Zoo at the National Museum of Natural History.

Take your future bug scientist on our Costa Rica Family tour this summer!

Which is your favorite bug you love to hate?

How to Impress Your Kids

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010
Amani, the National Zoo's two year old Cheetah, can change direction in midair while chasing prey. Photo Credit: Mehgan Murphy/Smithsonian’s National Zoo

Amani, the National Zoo's two year old Cheetah, can change direction in midair while chasing prey. Photo Credit: Mehgan Murphy/Smithsonian’s National Zoo

Every family vacation is an opportunity for parents to show off how much they really know about the world to their kids. We all remember dozing off in the back of the station wagon to our own parents’ teaching moments. This year, we’re introducing the Destination Smithsonian program, where families have the opportunity to experience the Smithsonian in a unique way. On our Destination Smithsonian: Multi-Media Photojournaling  package, kids ages 9-12 will be able to participate in photography workshops using their own digital cameras in the mornings and then share their knowledge with their parents on family excursions, like to the National Zoo, in the afternoon.

Which makes a parent wonder, “What kernels of knowledge will I have to share with my kid?”

To make sure you are prepared to impress, here are some crazy facts you can whip out while exploring the Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park.

1. Bats can eat up to 3000 insects in one night! They are also the only mammal that can truly fly.

2. A large python can grow up to 20 feet long and can eat a goat whole. Plus, the females are usually bigger than the males.

3. There are some species of frogs that can glide up to 50 feet through the air. Other frogs, like the Poison Dart Frog, have toxins in their skins that can kill it’s predators, including small mammals and even humans.

4.  It is difficult to distinguish a tiger from a lion without it’s fur,  but the tiger is the only cat with striped fur.

5. Some hummingbirds are so tiny, they weigh less than a penny.

If you have a child that loves photography, check out Destination Smithsonian: Multi-Media Photojournaling in Washington, D.C.

What’s your favorite quirky animal fact? Share Below.