Students Help Imagine Interactive Smithsonian Exhibit

    01 January, 2014


    From VOA Learning English, this is the Education Report.

    It was not just another day in a classroom recently for some young people in Washington D.C. Student volunteers visited the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History to test a new program.

    Some students explored the mysteries of human bones, other students examined an insect under a microscope. The student volunteers were among the first to help test a new exhibit at the museum.

    Students Help Imagine Interactive Smithsonian Exhibit
    Q?rius at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History

    The program has an unusual name, spoken as Q?rius and written as Q, ?, R, I ,U, S. The exhibits are designed so young people can learn about science by taking part in experiments.

    Program combines the newest technologies and scientific equipment with more than 6,000 museum objects, both real and digital.

    Students from local schools helped develop the exhibit. Teachers will bring their science students to the exhibit in the mornings. In the afternoons, the exhibits will be open to everyone.

    Many of the students already have their favorite activities at the center.

    Nate Reistetter, who is 13 years old, said he liked exploring the specimen drawers.

    "There was a cast of a dinosaur bone and you can scan the QR code [computerized bar code] on the computers and it will tell you all about where it was found and all sorts of stuff about it," he said.

    Addie Alexander is 12 years old, she likes the bee display. Addie said the bumble bee and the yellow bumble bee when they're not under the microscope look pretty much the same except one's bigger than the other. But she said when she looked at the two insects under the microscope, they were very different.

    Student Ben Werb said he likes the learning center's openness, and he enjoyed in an exhibit that lets people use their senses to learn more about objects. For example, he said a butterfly smells a little like tea.

    Involving the senses -- smell, touch, hearing -- is one of the exhibit's major goals. At one display, students recreated the sounds of insects called crickets, and they handled human bones in a laboratory.

    The scientific investigation of human remains is called forensic anthropology. It is often used to identify a person who has died and to learn the cause of death.

    Olivia Persons, who is 18 years old, is one of seven teens who helped develop the space, She said the laboratory was her favorite display area.

    "There is a lot of digital stuff, there is a lot of computer screens and touch screens, but in here they are actually able to touch real human bones."

    Q?rius can also be found online, this means visitors can continue their experiments after they leave the museum.

    And that's the Education Report From VOA Learning English. I'm Jerilyn Watson.