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Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful

We're serving up a summer sampler this week, covering topics including how scientists communicate about their work, the undersea adventures of an intrepid cave diver, and ways to boost your family's creativity-and fun-at home.

It's all designed to make sure you continue to enjoy what you've come to value from Smithsonian Associates: programs and experiences that are entertaining, informative, eclectic, and insightful.

Talking About Science

Scientists are increasingly finding themselves engaged in difficult conversations with the public: upholding that facts are really facts and addressing the damage and doubt that misinformation can produce. And in the process, they're often faced with resistance that can cross over into anger. How do they keep their professional cool? Rick Potts, director of the Smithsonian's Human Origins Program, was among the guests on a recent This Study Shows podcast who shared their strategies on communicating about science. Potts, a paleoanthropologist who has been part of a number of Smithsonian Associates programs, drew on his experience in talking about evolutionary science in communities where the topic is seen as a controversial one. Listening and respect, he says, are the best tools for a scientist to transform conflict into productive conversations.

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The Worlds Below

In a pursuit once tagged as the domain of adrenaline junkies, cave divers have become an important asset to scientists researching global climate change, archaeology, water issues, and unique biology. One of the top cave divers working today-and one of the very few women in her field-Jill Heinerth, an underwater explorer, writer, photographer, and filmmaker, has plenty of terrific stories and stunning images and videos to share from her adventures. Follow her from remote water-filled caves of Antarctica and Siberia to the Bahamas in a sure-to-be-fascinating August 12 program from Smithsonian Associates Streaming. Get a preview of her beautiful and dangerous world in this TED talk excerpt.

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Watch the TED Talk

Seeing Beyond Stereotypes

The Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center has launched a video series for classroom teachers and caregivers who are now in a teaching role. Sharing the theme "We are not a stereotype," they aim to help students from kindergarten to grade 12 break down bias against Asian Pacific Americans. The videos, supplemented by Smithsonian Learning Lab resources, span a variety of timelines, geographies, and identities as they cover histories and narratives that are often missing from classrooms.

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A Creative Family Connection

Making art together is a favorite pursuit for Arielle Ticho and her mother Allison August, so it wasn't surprising when they decided to take part in a collage and mixed-media class in July. But this shared creative endeavor was different: Ticho worked from her home in the District, while her mother participated from hers in Newton, Massachusetts. The class was among the studio arts programs offered by Smithsonian Arts Streaming-and they loved it. Ticho, an elementary-school teacher at DC Bilingual charter school, had enjoyed a previous Smithsonian Associates studio arts class and was pleased by her new experience: "It was different, but it still felt like a community" as participants-including one from Texas-got to know each other in the class. Her mother, she says, particularly appreciated the feedback from instructor Marcie Wolf-Hubbard that helped shape her artwork. Ticho, who plans to take another streaming art class, offers this advice for anyone considering stepping into an online studio: "Go for it! It's an awesome way to keep creative."

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Express Yourself!

How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Right now it's just a click away. Families can find a wide range of online activities that encourage musical learning, discovery, and play. There's plenty to keep your summer in tune: Compose a lullaby for your baby, introduce children to instruments and composers, or give your teen a chance to experience a Carnegie Hall master class. Jacob's Pillow, where this year's annual dance festival is a fully virtual one, can get your whole household on their feet in a free Zoom series of Families Dance Together classes designed for movers of all ages to enjoy, led by artists from Takoma Park's Dance Exchange. And the Pillow is serious about getting everyone in your family moving-even the four-legged members. An August 1 Dog Dance event leads you and your leashed canine through a series of simple and fun movements designed to highlight the beauty of pets and the unique relationships we share with our dogs.

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Families Dance Together