Where's Smithy? Photo Challenge: Kids will love this game: figure out where in the museum "Smithy" the Smithsonian border collie is hiding in this photo. Visit the spot in the museum and take a picture of your family in the same location. Families can then share their photos by uploading them to a special Flickr group and have a chance to win a Smithy frisbee. For more information and photos of Smithy in other Smithsonian locations visit smithsonianeducation.org. Continue the fun throughout the museum by improvising your own "I Spy" game or scavenger hunt through each exhibit (e.g. "I spy something orange with fur," or "Find something that is bumpy, hard, and blue").
Sant Ocean Hall: Highlights of this impressive hall include a life-size model of a 45-foot North Atlantic right whale, 2 giant squids, and the 7-foot-tall jaws of a megalodon. The exhibit also contains the world's largest and most diverse collection of marine specimens and explains how scientists study ocean life. Other interesting exhibits teach visitors about the ecology of coral reefs, coastal ecosystems, and the differences between the north and south poles. A 13-minute video, Deep Ocean Exploration, takes visitors on a submersible dive to the bottom of the ocean.
Orkin Insect Zoo: Within the 15 main areas of the Insect Zoo kids can observe live insects, climb through insect dwellings, watch tarantulas being fed, and touch and hold some of the many-legged creatures brought out by volunteers. Curious kids can learn even more after they get home by downloading the new e-book from the Smithsonian Science Education Center: "Expedition Insects." The ebook includes interactive images, videos and sound, animated maps, coloring pages and more.
Eternal Life in Ancient Egypt: Kids can learn about Egyptian burial rituals, Egyptian cosmology, and daily life in ancient Egypt. The exhibit includes mummy masks dating from 1388 BC to AD 200, a re-created tomb with a mummy and its coffin, the richly decorated inner coffin of noblewoman Tentkhonsu, an exploration of how mummies were made, and more.
Butterflies + Plants: Partners in Evolution: At the Live Butterfly Pavilion, visitors are invited to walk gently among hundreds of live butterflies flying among lush plants and tropical flowers. There is a small fee for tickets to the Butterfly Pavilion (adults $6, children $5, members $5). Tickets can be purchased online or at the Butterfly Pavilion Box Office. Tickets are free on Tuesdays and can be picked up at the Butterfly Pavilion Box Office each Tuesday beginning at 10:00 a.m. Note: The Butterfly Pavilion is currently closed for maintenance, will reopen February 7, 2015, and celebrates its 7th anniversary on February 14, 2015.
The Last American Dinosaurs: Discovering a Lost World: Although the museum's familiar Fossil Hall is closed for major renovations until 2019, you can still explore the lives of these prehistoric giants at a new exhibit that opened in November 2014. In "Last American Dinosaurs" visitors will learn about the fossils collected in the Hell Creek Formation in North Dakota, believed to be the last dinosaurs that walked America 66 million years ago. Also be sure to visit the glass enclosed FossiLab to watch museum workers uncover fossils from rock and create fossil casts and molds. Wired kids can also take a Virtual Dinosaur Tour to learn more about each of the dinosaurs and how they were discovered or a Prehistoric Climate Change Virtual Tour to explore how global warming 55 million years ago radically changed life on Earth.
Hall of Mammals: Recreated habitats of Africa, North American, South America and Australia showcase 274 different mammal specimens preserved in various habitats from the dessert to the tundra. In this large-as-life 'still-life zoo', discovery areas include computer interactives, touchable objects, and Q&A stations.
Hall of Geology, Gems and Minerals: Kids and parents alike will be dazzled by over 2,500 minerals and gems in the Smithsonian's collection including famous gems such as the Hope Diamond and Star of Asia sapphire -- and no, you can't try them on. The Hall also explores the solar system and the earth's changing geology.
Q?rius Jr. Discovery Room: School-aged kids can practice their scientific inquiry skills in this hands-on room often used by school groups, but also open to families during specified hours Tuesday through Sunday. By examining specimens such as fossils, skulls and shells, kids can use their scientific inquiry skills to draw conclusions from the evidence.
Kid Trips Tip: Download the Smithsonian Mobile app to get info about the Smithsonian on the go, including maps, collection highlights, tours, podcasts, special event info and more.
Photos courtesy of Smithsonian Institution, www.si.edu.
Special Events: Plan ahead to visit during one of the museum's special event days.
Johnson IMAX® Theater: When little feet need a break from walking, learn more about natural history through the spectacular imagery of IMAX®. Ticket prices range from $6-$15, depending on the type of film and ticket type (adult, youth, group, etc.). Tickets may be purchased online or at the museum.
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