“Have you ever been inside the crater of a non-active volcano?” The Shenandoah Middle School class erupted with excitement, as Elizabeth Cottrell, a volcano geochemist from the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) answered their question during the Q?RIUS LIVE Science Webcast that aired across the country last week.
The Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science (Frost Science) is always on the lookout for opportunities and partnerships to enhance our fabulous programs. As a Smithsonian Institution Affiliate Museum, Frost Science found one such opportunity through NMNH, with the goal of delivering an enhanced scientific experience for students in Miami-Dade County. Q?RIUS is a new experimental learning space at NMNH where teens can encounter real Smithsonian scientist’s research and explore, touch, and smell the collection zone. This zone has over 6,000 pieces of real specimens that visitors can interact with.
Since the entire country cannot experience Q?RIUS for all its glory, the National Museum of Natural History has created LIVE science webcasts that schools, homeschool groups, families, and anyone with internet can tune in to and learn more about the research that Smithsonian scientists are doing.
Michelle Beumer, Frost Science’s Public Programs Manager, traveled to the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. in April to learn more about Q?RIUS and the strides its making with teens in both the digital and physical space. Through a digital field book, teens can collect badges by completing assignments that take them through the research of real Smithsonian scientists, and while Michelle was there she watched the production of the Q?RIUS webcast in the studio at NMNH. Michelle will visit the Washington D.C. again this June for the 2014 Smithsonian Affiliations National Conference to speak about Frost Science’s unique approach to bringing the webcasts to schools.
For one of these webcast events last week, Michelle and Angela Colbert, Frost Science Science Curator, brought a local University of Miami Geologist, Arash Sharifi (a.k.a. “Arash, the crazy rock digger”), along with some play dough, shells, and plaster of paris, to Shenandoah Middle School, to give students a taste of the life in the times of a geologist. After learning the tricks of the trade for geologists, the students watched the LIVE science webcast from the comfort of their classroom. Swimming with the ideas of taking a trip to the center of the Earth, the student’s question was answered during the webcast.