Keep learning with Smithsonian Museum of Natural History webcasts

Smithsonian Science How

Bring a Smithsonian Scientist into your classroom with Smithsonian Science How! Check out the Science How schedule below to get started, or preview our formats by watching a program from our video webcast archives.

Video Webcasts

These free, interactive, live video webcasts take questions from your students while introducing them to science concepts and practices through the lens of Smithsonian research and experts. The shows provide opportunities for your students to interact via live polls and Q&A with the scientist.

  • Grades 3-8; optimized for students in grades 3-5
  • Developed in collaboration with the Smithsonian’s children’s theater, Discovery Theater
  • Scientists take your questions
  • Complementary teaching resources
  • 30 minutes long
  • Aligned with national science standards

Schedule

Here is the webcast schedule for the 2019-2020 school year. Want to suggest a topic for a future show? E-mail us at ScienceHow@si.edu.

Upcoming Shows

We’re moving our popular webcast series to video webinars to connect your learners to natural history science and careers more often. Webinars will be presented on Zoom video. All times are Eastern Time.

Completed Shows

Video Archives

We’ve produced 52 Smithsonian Science How webcasts over the last six years. They feature Smithsonian experts and cover specific topics in the disciplines of Earth Science, Life Science, Paleontology, and Social Studies.

Browse the video archives.

Ask Science How

Teachers and students: Do you have a question for our science experts? Send us your questions, either before or after a webcast. We’ll send you the answer. Ask Science How

Message to Master Naturalists from Michelle Prysby

Dear Virginia Master Naturalist volunteers—I hope that you all are safe and well. I’ve been in contact with all the VMN chapter board members and advisors regularly over the last week, and I wanted to take time now to reach out to all of our volunteers.

First, I would like to holler three cheers for all of our chapter leaders. They have been doing a great job pivoting as necessary given the ever-changing circumstances. They have had to gather information and preferences from a lot of people, make decisions about canceling events, learn new technologies to move meetings online, and a lot more. Terri, Tiffany, and I are all extremely appreciative of their efforts.

Second, I want to use this platform to ask all of you to take the guidelines from the Virginia Department of Health, the CDC, and the Governor’s office regarding COVID-19 very seriously. The most civic-minded act we all can do right now is to avoid in-person interactions and physically distance ourselves as much as possible. I know you all are very committed to your VMN volunteer work. Please put that work on hold if you cannot do it safely. Some people may even want to stop some volunteer work and projects that don’t require group gatherings, just because they want to conserve their mental and physical energy right now. That’s completely fine. Other projects may continue because people have the energy to do them and because they can be done safely.

Third, you’ll notice I did not use the term “social distancing”, and that’s because your fellow volunteers, friends, and family need connection now more than ever. Use the time you might have spent at all those events that are now canceled instead reaching out (in a safe way) to people you know. If there are safe ways to volunteer in your community to help the COVID-19 response effort, that could be a good way to re-direct your inclination to volunteer. 

Fourth, in the spirit of staying connected, I plan to be ramping up our Continuing Education webinars in the coming weeks. I had a couple of our regular webinars already lined up, and I will add to these so that there are more learning experiences available to you. I’ll announce those on our CE webinar webpage at http://www.virginiamasternaturalist.org/continuing-education-webinar-series.html and via our CE Webinar mailing list. You can join that mailing list by going to http://www.virginiamasternaturalist.org/receive-communications.html and clicking the “Email Alert Sign-Up”. 

Fifth, I am very proud and fortunate to work with Virginia Cooperative Extension, an agency that is providing great leadership, community assistance, and public information during this crisis. VCE now has a public webpage with COVID-19 resources at https://ext.vt.edu/covid-19updates/resources.html. Every day, additional fact sheets and other information is added there.We are so fortunate that spending time in nature, so long as we are not in close contact with other humans or sharing our binoculars, is safe! I have noticed more families than ever spending time outside in the park and trail near my house, which gives me a lot of hope. 

Spring is springing, and I hope that you will be able to spot your favorite wildflower in bloom, hear the birds singing, and watch the forests turn green again as the leaves emerge.

Stay well, Michelle Prysby, VMN Program Director

City Nature Challenge Educator Workshop, Mar. 28th

National Geographic headquarters
1145 17th St NW, Washington DC 20036
(near Farragut West and Farragut North Metro stations)
Saturday, 28 March 2020
9:30am – Noon
Breakfast will be provided

Over 250 cities around the world are participating in a friendly competition to see which metro area can observe and identify the most wildlife. You can contribute with your students or youth group! Your observations will help document the many species that live in our region, contribute to a worldwide database of urban wildlife—and help the Washington DC metro area win the City Nature Challenge (CNC)!

Come to National Geographic to learn about the CNC, practice collecting observations, and share ideas about how to integrate CNC activities into your classroom or group.

The workshop will be a great resource for educators, formal or informal, who have been thinking about participating in the City Nature Challenge but want to get better acquainted with the tools.

There is no cost, but registration is limited. Please do share the invitation with others; each person needs to register separately for security purposes.

Register here. Contact Mary Ford with questions.

NOVA Green Festival 2020, April 15th–CANCELED!

NOVA Annandale Campus
Richard J. Ernst Community Cultural Center (CE Building)
8333 Little River Turnpike, Annandale VA
Wednesday, 15 April 2020
9am – 3pm

The theme for this year’s event is “Waste and its impact on habitats.” The purpose of NOVA’s Annual Green Festival is to increase both the college and local community awareness of regional, national and global environmental issues and provide information regarding ways that individuals can help preserve the environment. Participants at this community event will include faculty, staff, students and local community members. While the target audience is high school and college students, the event is free and open to the public.

The festival will be a combination of presentations, panel discussions, interactive demonstrations and informational displays. It will help the audience to recognize ways to conserve resources, promote change and make difference as individuals.

Get the full schedule here.

Downloadable and printable flyer here.

Spring Warblers, Mar. 30th and April 1st–CANCELED! All ASNV programs through April 30th are canceled or rescheduled

Alexandria Country Day School
2400 Russell Road, Alexandria VA
Monday, 30 March and Wednesday, 1 April 2020
7 – 9:30 pm
$40 ASNV members; $45 nonmembers

Get ready for spring by learning about the largest and most colorful family of birds who visit the Washington area. Presented by Audubon Society of Northern Virginia.

Class 1 – Plumage and Behavior (March 30th)
Learn about the appearance and behavior of the 30+ species of wood warblers who visit during the spring.

Class 2 – Vocalizations (April 1st)
Most warblers are heard before they are seen. Learn how to identify their vocalizations so that you will be better able to find them in the field.

Instructor: Bill Young is a writer who lives in Arlington. He is the author of “The Fascination of Birds: From the Albatross to the Yellowthroat” (Dover, 2014). He is the co-creator of the MPNature.com website, which contains information about birds, plants, and other aspects of the natural history at Monticello Park in Alexandria. Bill also makes nature videos, and his YouTube channel has had close to a half a million views.

Register here.

Fireflies: Hosting Nature’s Light Show into Your Garden, Mar. 23rd

Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church (just off the combined Routes 50 and 29 in Fairfax)
3810 Meredith Drive, Fairfax, VA. 22030
Monday, 23 March 2020
7:30 pm

Lightning bugs (aka fireflies) are part of the magic of growing up in the eastern U.S., yet most people know very little about them. Nature education specialists Kris and Erik Mollenhauer have studied fireflies, seen “blue ghosts” and “synchronizing fireflies,” and explored some of the dark secrets of the Night Country. This program explores the “fairies of the night” and how we can create habitat in our gardens to keep them flashing for years to come.

BIO: Erik and Kris Mollenhauer are retired educators but committed volunteers. Erik taught high school science for 15 years, then worked as an educational program developer for 24 years. He developed a program with Costa Rica based on songbird migration as well as an international teacher exchange program that led groups to several countries, including Russia, Australia and Japan. For 5 years he helped National Geographic improve geography education in NJ schools; for 30 years, he’s used a portable planetarium to teach the night sky to people of all ages in the US, Canada, Russia and Japan.

Kris was an elementary school teacher for 14 years, then spent 12 years as a Reading Recovery teacher, teaching struggling students how to read. Working with the Monarch Teacher Network, the Mollenhauers have taught monarch butterfly workshops across the US and Canada for the past 20 years and guided groups to the winter monarch colonies in Mexico and California. They’ve also developed many educational projects together, including the East Coast Vulture Festival, the Mad Hatter’s Tree Party, the Gloucester County Bird Quest and, most recently, the Gloucester County Firefly Festival.

Green Breakfast: Three Things You Can Do to Change the World, Mar. 14th–CANCELLED!

In an abundance of caution and uncertainty over the spread of COVID-19, this event is cancelled. The speaker will make her presentation at the July 11, 2020 Green Breakfast.

Brion’s Grille
10621 Braddock Rd, Fairfax, VA 22032
Saturday, 14 March 2020
Breakfast begins at 8:30 am, $10 at the door, cash preferred.
No prior registration required.

Ever wonder what you can do to make the biggest impact locally and globally? The scale of environmental issues can be overwhelming and make it difficult to convince ourselves that any changes we make will make a difference. How do our individual efforts contribute to a collective impact? Join Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District for a warm breakfast and hear from Jen Cole, Executive Director, Clean Fairfax, who will share three things you can do to reduce your local and global footprint, including ways of reducing dependency on disposable items.

Clean Fairfax began as a litter control task force in 1978, established by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to implement an anti-litter campaign. In 1985, the organization became a private nonprofit.

Funding for the program comes from statewide taxes provided by manufacturers, wholesalers, and distributors of 15 product categories. As a recipient of a non-competitive state grant, Clean Fairfax Council educates the citizens of Fairfax County, Virginia on litter prevention and control, supports the county recycling program, discourages graffiti, promotes sustainability and provides environmental education to residents, businesses and students.

Breakfast includes an all-you-can eat hot buffet with fresh fruit and coffee, tea, orange juice or water. No prior registration required. If you have any questions, please contact the Northern Virginia Soil and Water at conservationdistrict@fairfaxcounty.gov.

Huntley Meadows: Preserving Native Plants, program April 9th–CANCELED!

Photo: Barbara J. Saffir (c)

Green Spring Gardens
4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria
Thursday, 9 April 2020
7:30 – 9pm

David Lawlor will discuss the recent Natural Resource Management activities at Huntley Meadows Park including the newly revised Natural Resource Management Plan based on Natural Vegetation Communities found in the park. He will review the quality and types of Huntley Meadows Park Natural Vegetation Communities, as well as the monitoring and protection efforts for the rare plant communities and rare plants found in the park. David will also speak about the surveys and research being conducted at HMP to enhance the understanding of the ecosystems being protected.

David Lawlor is a native of Fairfax County growing up in Annandale, VA. He graduated with a B.S. in Biology from George Mason University. David has over 20 years of experience in the field of Natural Resource Management planning and implementation. David worked as the Fairfax County Assistant Wildlife Biologist for six years and has been the Natural Resource Manager at Huntley Meadows for over 15 years.

Presented by Virginia Native Plant Society, Potowmack Chapter.
Lecture is free and open to the public.

Creating A Flood-Free Paradise: Managing Water in the Garden, program Mar. 2nd

Falls Church Garden Club
American Legion Hall
400 N. Oak Street, Falls Church VA
Monday, 2 March 2020
7:30 pm

Falls Church and Fairfax County have faced more than their share of flooding. Award-winning landscape designer and Falls Church resident Elisa Meara, founder/owner of the Native Plant Landscape Design Corp., will share before-and-after stories and photos of properties that have undergone conservation landscaping to manage stormwater and prevent erosion. She also may touch on rain gardens, infiltration trenches, swales and other approaches to water management, as well as provide a list of plants suitable to a wide variety of conditions.

Elisa Meara grew up in the Dominican Republic, where nature and plants always played a big role in her life. Living in a country where the weather allows people to enjoy the outdoors year-round, she became interested in the beautiful array of textures, colors, forms, fragrances and shades of the Dominican flora. This was the beginning of her passion for beauty and design. During the last fifteen years she has lived in five different countries. In each place, she faced the challenges that come with working with unfamiliar plants, soils, and weather, but says that the difficulties were always more than compensated for by the joy of learning and the adventure of working with things new and exotic. While living in England, Meara trained at the Inchbald School of Design, one of the most demanding and prestigious garden design programs in the world. As a certified Virginia Master Gardener who has worked as a landscape designer in England and Italy, she aspires to create personalized garden designs that support the local ecosystem. Her Native Plant Landscape Design Corp., launched in Falls Church in 2013, received the 2019 Virginia Conservation Assistance Program Leadership Award and has won Best of Houzz Service Award from 2016-2019. In 2019, the Chesapeake Stormwater Network awarded her 2nd place for Best Residential BMP in the Bay for a local project that captures and treats 100% of the runoff from the property.

Piecing Together Nature’s Puzzle with Alonso Abugattas, March 12th–CANCELLED!

Green Spring Gardens
4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria VA
Thursday, 12 March 2020
7:30 – 9 pm

Nature is intricately interconnected. While we certainly don’t know how all the pieces fit, we can have some informative fun trying to put them together. Virginia Native Plant Society, Potowmack Chapter presents an interesting look at how pieces of the “nature puzzle” fit together, focusing on our native flora and wildlife of course. Get a peek at just how interdependent are plants, fungi, insects, wildlife, and even humans can be and try to piece together some parts of our local nature puzzle. Take a look at host plants, oligolectic bees, ethnobotany, and other wildlife interactions. You may not look at our natural world the same way again. 

Alonso Abugattas is a well-known local naturalist, environmental educator, and storyteller in the Washington, DC area. He is the Natural Resources Manager for Arlington County Parks, VA and the longtime Co-Chair for the Beltway Chapter of Region 2 of the National Association for Interpretation, the professional association for naturalists, historians, and docents. He was awarded their Regional Outstanding Interpretive Manager Award in 2018 and the national Master Interpretive Manager in 2018. He has been trained as a Master Gardener, was made an honorary Virginia Master Naturalist for his role in starting 2 chapters, and serves as an instructor for both.

Alonso is a co-founder of the Washington Area Butterfly Club and has held several offices (including President) for the Potowmack Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society. With numerous mentions and appearances on television, radio, and the press, he invites you to check out his NAI Interpretive Section Thomas Say Media Award winning FaceBook Group “Capital Naturalist”, his Capital Naturalist Blog, @CapNaturalist on Twitter, and the Capital Naturalist YouTube Channel.