The Smithsonian Science Education Center has started a new blog series to understand how Smithsonian Science for the Classroom is impacting students and teachers in schools across the country.
In April and May of 2020 the Smithsonian Science Education Center (SSEC) in collaboration with the World Health Organization and InterAcadamy Partnership developed the community research guide COVID-19! How Can I Protect Myself and Others? as a rapid response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for high-quality STEM education for young people.
COVID-19! How Can I Protect Myself and Others? is translated into 25 languages including Spanish. Smithsonian Science Education Center
When you consider a busy city like Washington, DC, you might not think about exotic wildlife encounters. But the DC-area is home to a fascinating animal: the Southern Flying Squirrel. Many people don’t realize that they may be living with flying squirrels right in their backyards. In fact, flying squirrels are the most common squirrel in North America .
American and Asian Cousins
North America is home to two major species of flying squirrel. The two primary flying squirrel species found in the United States are the Southern Flying Squirrel, Glaucomys volans, and the Northern Flying Squirrel, Glaucomys sabrinus. As you can see from the maps below, the two species of North American squirrel have vast ranges in which they live.
Left: Range Map of Glaucomys volans, the Southern Flying Squirrel . Right: Range Map of Glaucomys sabrinus, the Northern Flying Squirrel . Cassola, F.
As we celebrate women who have made history and break down barriers, we want to showcase women who are changing the face of STEM during Women’s History Month.
We spoke with three women featured in the Stories of Women in STEM at the Smithsonian ebook about their career path, and how they would encourage the next generation of scientists.
As this year’s Black History Month theme explores representation, identity and diversity, we spoke with several educators and former STEM Education Summit participants on how these subjects impact the classroom experience of marginalized students, and in turn, conceptualize their world view.
We asked five science, technology, engineering and mathematics professionals why representation and diversity is necessary for STEM education and can create an equitable future for the industry.
VeRonica R. Mitchell: Global Lead Engineering Manager, General Motors
Veronica Mitchell notes three things that need to change about the STEM industry to make it more inclusive: awareness, access to education, and role models.
“Youths of all backgrounds, particularly those from underrepresented groups, need to understand the types of opportunities that are in that space.”
Mitchell believes students should be given opportunities to explore passions and identify natural aptitudes for a variety of interests or careers.
VeRonica R. Mitchell: Global Lead Engineering Manager, General Motors
Gen Z: The Conscious Generation
On December 1st, SSEC Director Carol O’Donnell was an invited panelist for the Bloomberg Sustainable Business Briefing “Gen Z: The Conscious Generation.” Led by a Bloomberg journalist discussing how to educate, inform, and support the workforce of the future, the panel examined how companies and Gen Z can connect to build a more sustainable working world of the future.
Yunjung Yi’s lifelong interest in STEM has been in mathematics—the “M” part of the acronym. In her mid-elementary school years, she was drawn to solving math problems with “determined” answers, those that are logical and where a single answer exists.
Remote learning, as a result of the global pandemic, has brought topics of diversity, accessibility, equity and inclusivity to the fore of conversations concerning the state of education. The pivot to fully virtual and hybrid instructional settings has pushed educators to find new solutions to challenges related to accessible and inclusive STEM learning.
Ali Cirik is a Wireless Technology Specialist at Ofinno.
The Smithsonian Science Education Center recently launched Pick Your Plate! Guía Global de Nutrición! This game educates players about dietary guidelines by highlighting the food, currency, music, and nutritional guidelines from eight different countries across the world. Students are invited to virtually travel and eat their way across the world as they are exposed to a variety of food facts from each country. From tubers in Benin to avocados in Australia, learn why each food item is significant to its respective nation through Pick Your Plate! and beyond.
Home as A Place of Discovery
Homes are special places of discovery, abound with scientific phenomenon and engineering marvels. They are also places where student sensemaking and problem-finding are king; and intergenerational learning of science—where all generations can learn together (Lawson et al, 2019)—is common. A home is a place where anyone with a question can be a scientist.
In the fall, leaves change color and apples and pumpkins are ripe. BrianAJackson/iStock/Getty Images Plus
Meteorological fall arrived on September 1. This is harvest season for many people in the Northern Hemisphere. Apples are ready to pick at orchards and pumpkin patches await visitors. Are you raking leaves yet? Are you enjoying delicious, warm apple cider as the temperature begins to cool? The first day of astronomical fall in the Northern Hemisphere officially arrives September 22 when the Sun crosses the celestial equator going north to south, which is called the autumnal equinox. During an equinox the tilt of Earth’s axis and Earth’s orbit around the Sun are positioned such that the axis isn’t tilting one hemisphere toward or away from the Sun. Direct sunlight shines on the equator, so the length of day and night is nearly equal for both hemispheres.
The people who lived in Polynesia hundreds of years ago were known for their voyaging capability. They practiced wayfinding, or navigating, by using careful observations of the natural world including the stars, the Sun, and ocean waves. We know they sailed between clusters of islands that includes Marquesas, Mangareva, and Rapa Nui using their sturdy double-hulled canoes, but did they travel all the way to South America? Until recently, the strongest evidence to answer this question was the presence of the sweet potato, a crop native to South America, in Polynesia. However, recent research analyzing human DNA from Polynesians and South and Central American groups sheds new light on the mystery.
This artwork shows what a double-hulled canoe looks like. Getty
The Smithsonian is an institution dedicated to the public good, and in these times, we take that mission more seriously than ever. Although most of our museums and research centers are temporarily closed, we remain hard at work—educating, inspiring and supporting Americans through this difficult period.
During the past few months, the country has grappled with dual pandemics—the first a pandemic of illness, the second a pandemic of racism. It is like no other moment in American history.
People everywhere are turning to the Smithsonian in record numbers for context and knowledge. By making the wonders of science, art, history and culture accessible to all, we help the public understand the complexities of our world and feel part of a shared human experience.
Lighthouses serve several functions. They can warn people on boats of rocks in the water. They can show the way to a safe harbor. Are you looking for a light to guide you in these rocky times? Consider taking a lighthouse tour courtesy of the Smithsonian. Or maybe that’s a tour of the Smithsonian courtesy of lighthouses.
In order of left to right rows from top left: Scott Catalogue German Democratic Republic 1554 National Postal Museum, 1977.1220.127.116.11; African Postcard collection, EEPA 1985-014, Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution; Transfer from U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Harpers Ferry Center (through David H. Wallace); Photo Lot 97 DOE Oceania: Philippines Postcard Collection 05169000, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution; Transferred from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration 1964, nasm_A19760224000; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Transfer from the General Services Administration ca. 1935-1938, 1974.28.154; Smithsonian Institution Archives, siris_sic_13382; Henry and Nancy Rosin Collection of Early Photography of Japan. Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. Purchase and partial donation. FSA.A1999.35; Smithsonian National Museum of American History, nmah_1413592; Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, 1896-16-1.
Scarisbrick Hall School, UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) hosted an online “Global Classroom” to help young people around the world learn more about COVID-19. The virtual event hosted schoolchildren from 193 countries invited to ask questions about the virus and pandemic.
Smithsonian Science Education Center Director, Carol O’Donnell, and Division Director for Curriculum & Communications, Brian Mandell, both presented at the event.
Annual IAP SEP Global Council Meeting
The Inter-Academy Panel in Science Education Programme (IAP SEP) held its annual meeting, virtually, on April 22nd. The focus of IAP SEP is the promotion of Inquiry-Based Science Education (IBSE) and also the improvement of science literacy among the general population through national academies of sciences as well as science museums and centers. O’Donnell has been a member of the council since 2015.
COVID-19 has taken over world headlines since it first emerged in December of 2019. As the disease spread into a pandemic, scientists have scrambled to learn as much about it as quickly as possible. An early bright spot in the overwhelmingly negative news about COVID-19 was that it was believed pets could not get or carry the virus. However, recently a tiger at the Bronx Zoo tested positive for COVID-19, which opened the questions: Can I infect my pet or another animal? And can an infected animal infect me?
What is a virus?
COVID-19 is the name of the disease caused by the virus, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). A virus is any of a large group of microscopic infectious agents. Viruses are composed of genetic material, RNA or DNA, surrounded by a protein coat called a capsid. The capsid keeps the genetic material safe. Some viruses also have greasy coat called an envelope. A virus is a parasite and needs a cell to replicate. Like some animal species, viruses are grouped into families and types with other genetically related viruses. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that usually use cells in the respiratory tract of a human or non-human animal to replicate. They often cause mild to moderate upper-respiratory tract illnesses.
Corona means “crown” in Latin. Corona viruses are named for the spikes on their surface that look like the points on a crown. NIAID-RM
The British are coming
A century ago, the jungles of India were teeming with 45,000 tigers. The Indian people and tigers lived together in harmony, at least for the most part. Tiger hunts took place but were not common. This all changed when the British arrived in India, bringing with them their love of hunting. Tiger hunting became a royal sport soon after.
One maharaja was reported to have killed 1,200 tigers. Image: National Museum of Asian Art, accession number S1990.73.
Spring 2020 Advisory Board Dinner & Meetings
The Smithsonian Science Education Center held its Spring 2020 Advisory Board meetings and dinner March 4th- 5th in Washington, DC. On Wednesday, March 4th, SSEC held a joint meeting between the board and its Ad-Hoc Committee on Higher Education Center. The group was welcomed by the interim Associate Provost for Education & Access, Ruki Neuhold-Ravikumar. This was the final meeting of the Ad-Hoc Committee, whose members include:
We offer free Smithsonian STEM games online or for download! Our games are designed with clear learning objectives, vetted by our team of curriculum experts, and are used by students around the world!
Shutterbugs: Wiggle and Stomp
Kindergarten | Physical Science
Lions! Pandas! Naked mole rats? Come visit them all at Smithsonian’s National Zoo. We are on the lookout for animals that are swimming, running, wiggling, and stomping. Grab a camera and take some pictures of animals on the move! Shutterbugs teaches students how to describe movement and motion while visiting rare animals at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park. Each animal has coloring-page printouts, so you can print and color your favorite critter.
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