The Smithsonian Institution is the world's largest museum and research facility.
It features 16 museums and the National Zoo in the Washington, D.C. and 2 museums
in New York City.
The website (http://www.smithsonian.org/science_and_technology/) offers a virtual tour of exhibition and museums with the click of a button, from the convenience and comfort of your home.
The "Hands On Science Center" was particularly interesting. This center displays an understanding of the role science in American history and our daily life. Science activities are engaging and performed in a delightful atmosphere. The current activity, the "star-spangled banner conservation project," allows visitors to piece together the history of the flag and gain an understanding of the intricacy of preserving textile. When visiting this center there are several ongoing activities. For instance, visitors decipher the secret of DNA, separate food dyes in beverages, analyze natural history specimens collected by a soldier in the 1850"s, measure radioactive hot spots, discover what a "gas" carbon dioxide is and test water for pollutants the way scientists did in the 1890s.
The "Hands on History Room" was also quite enticing. There are more than 30 activities that incorporate reproductions of historical artifacts, allowing visitors to feel, examine and use objects seen around the Museum. Overall, this "hand on experience" enhances ones understanding of American history.
"Inventing Ourselves" is an interesting exhibit. We examine how technology is used to reinvent human bodies. The display probes history and the construction of artificial limbs and implants devices, like artificial hearts and hip joints. We also examine how the creator uses technology to extend human life and our abilities.
When immersing yourself in "Smithsonian Education" you will find an interactive center for kids, offering a place for exploration, discovery and learning. One of the many intriguing labs that I stumbled across in the science and technology section was "Apollo 11-Walking on the Moon". This interactive, virtual exhibition is packed with interesting facts and information. I was able to take a closer look at the spacecraft, "meet" the crew, experience life in space, and take a gander at the moon, up close and personal. An interactive timeline also enhanced this experience, providing chronological bits of historic information. Recorded commentary made this experience even more real. At the end of each section a "try this" activity is presented, encouraging the viewer to think about particular questions, stirring our ideas and finding solutions. An area is also provided for submitting answers.
Overall, "visiting" the online Smithsonian Institution was an engaging experience. There is much to be learned about American history and other cultures. This site offers a diversity of fields to study, from animals, geology, and plants to health/human sciences, computers/communications and aviation/transportation. The interactive exhibitions brought the Smithsonian to "life," making this learning experience worthwhile and fun!