Posts Tagged ‘washington dc’

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!

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.

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?

Video: Photographing Black Washington, DC

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

February is Black History Month, a great time to explore programs, exhibits, and resources at the Smithsonian. Here are a few ways to celebrate black history this month, and all year round:

  1. Learn about The National Museum of African American History and Culture by exploring their website.
  2. Visit the exhibit Indivisible: African- Native American Lives in the Americas at the National Museum of the American Indian.
  3. Explore the Smithsonian African American Heritage Tour that combine objects from our collections with timelines, music, and quizzes.
  4. From Thursdays-Sundays on February 1-14 participate in the award-winning Historic Theater and learn about Student Sit-Ins during the Civil Rights Era at the National Museum of American History.

One native Washingtonian family special to our hearts here in our nation’s capital is the Scurlock family. Their photography studio captured iconic images of notable African Americans during the Civil Rights Movement, as well as many of D.C.’s everyday people.

Want to explore more about African American History up close and in person? Check out Word, Shout, and Song: Experiencing South Carolina’s Gullah Traditions presented by The Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum.

How do you celebrate Black History Month? Share Below

SI Research Notes: The Wright Flyer

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

Linda Stevens is the Field Notes Coordinator for Smithsonian Journeys. Combing the Institution for interesting projects happening around the world, she prepares these research notes especially for travelers. Click here to learn more about Linda.

The centerpiece of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum (NASM) is the 1903 Wright Flyer. But its journey to Washington, D.C. from Kitty Hawk, NC was long and complicated.

The 1903 Wright Flyer began to acquire the status of a national treasure in the 1920s as a feud developed between Orville Wright and the Smithsonian. The dispute centered on the Institution’s public display of the aeronautical achievements of its former Secretary, Samuel Langley, and its reluctance to credit the Wright brothers as the true inventors of the airplane. Langley had tested his aircraft, the Aerodrome, in October 1903 and again two months later. Both times it failed to achieve sustained controlled powered flight.

Orville Wright at controls of the Wright Flyer and Wilbur running alongside at Kitty Hawk, 1903. Photo: Library of Congress

Orville Wright at controls of the Wright Flyer and Wilbur running alongside at Kitty Hawk, 1903. Photo: Library of Congress