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Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful

Science & Nature Programs

Tour

The U.S. Capitol Grounds and Arboretum

Wednesday, June 1, 2022 - 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. ET

Join naturalist and tree expert Melanie Choukas-Bradley for a spring walking tour of the historic and botanically diverse trees of the U.S. Capitol Grounds and Arboretum. It’s a chance to admire D.C.’s many trees in verdant June foliage.

Tour

The U.S. Capitol Grounds and Arboretum

Thursday, June 2, 2022 - 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. ET

Join naturalist and tree expert Melanie Choukas-Bradley for a spring walking tour of the historic and botanically diverse trees of the U.S. Capitol Grounds and Arboretum. It’s a chance to admire D.C.’s many trees in verdant June foliage.

Tour

A Mountain Rail Extravaganza: The Cass Scenic Railroad and Other West Virginia Excursions

June 3 - 5, 2022, 8:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

All aboard for an exciting three-day rail journey through West Virginia’s breathtaking mountain scenery led by railroad historian Joe Nevin.

Tour

The U.S. Capitol Grounds and Arboretum

Friday, June 3, 2022 - 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. ET

Join naturalist and tree expert Melanie Choukas-Bradley for a spring walking tour of the historic and botanically diverse trees of the U.S. Capitol Grounds and Arboretum. It’s a chance to admire D.C.’s many trees in verdant June foliage.

Lecture/Seminar

Palimpsests: Hidden Texts Revealed by Technology

Wednesday, June 8, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. ET

Palimpsests—parchment manuscripts that have had their original text scrubbed off and overwritten—are now sharing long-held secrets through technologies adapted from satellite imaging, medicine, and other fields. Michael B. Toth of R. B. Toth Associates leads a fascinating scientific and historical trek as he reviews how he and his teams have brought forgotten early texts to light in projects that span the globe.

Lecture/Seminar

Reptiles and Amphibians: A Closer Look

Wednesday, June 8, 2022 - 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

Join naturalist and salamander enthusiast Matt Felperin for an introduction to the fascinating world of herpetofauna, or “herps.” Otherwise known as reptiles and amphibians, these largely misunderstood animals are more interesting than you have probably imagined them to be.

Tour

Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary: Nature at its Best

Sunday, June 12, 2022 - 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET

Spend a day with Liana Vitali, naturalist and educator, and other park volunteers exploring the Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary, a natural and cultural preserve along the Patuxent River less than 25 miles outside of Washington, D.C.

Tour

The Philadelphia Flower Show

Tuesday, June 14, 2022 - 9:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

Enjoy the summer breezes at the 2022 outdoor edition of the nation’s largest and longest-running horticultural event, the Philadelphia Flower Show. This year’s theme, In Full Bloom, explores the restorative and healing power of nature and plants. Encounter gardens at the peak of seasonal perfection and beauty.

Lecture/Seminar

The History of Vaccines

Tuesday, June 14, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

Though humanity has benefited from them for more than two centuries, the pathway to effective vaccines has been neither neat nor direct. Medical historian Howard Markel traces the history of vaccines and immunization from its late-18th-century beginnings and how it may inform long-term solutions to contemporary problems with vaccine research, production, and supplies.

Lecture/Seminar

La Brea Tar Pits: Peril and Promise

Tuesday, June 14, 2022 - 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

In the heart of Los Angeles, geologic processes created the La Brea Tar Pits, the richest Ice Age fossil site on Earth. Learn what happened to this lost world, and what it means for our planet today, in a virtual tour of the site that covers 20 million years, from ancient seabed to LA’s modern car culture.

Tour

Rock Creek Park: A Nature and History Walk

Wednesday, June 15, 2022 - 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. ET

Spend a spring morning exploring the verdant wooded trails of Rock Creek Park with naturalist and author Melanie Choukas-Bradley. She surveys the park’s botanically diverse native trees, its rich history of the oldest urban national park in the country, and introduces the trail network that provides recreation for millions of local residents and visitors annually.

Tour

Rock Creek Park: A Nature and History Walk

Thursday, June 16, 2022 - 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. ET

Spend a spring morning exploring the verdant wooded trails of Rock Creek Park with naturalist and author Melanie Choukas-Bradley. She surveys the park’s botanically diverse native trees, its rich history of the oldest urban national park in the country, and introduces the trail network that provides recreation for millions of local residents and visitors annually.

Lecture/Seminar

On the Female of the Species

Thursday, June 16, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

In-Person and Online Program: Join zoologist and author Lucy Cooke as she introduces the remarkable animals that are revolutionizing our understanding of what it means to be female and challenging longstanding ideas about evolutionary biology.

Tour

Rock Creek Park: A Nature and History Walk

Friday, June 17, 2022 - 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. ET

Spend a spring morning exploring the verdant wooded trails of Rock Creek Park with naturalist and author Melanie Choukas-Bradley. She surveys the park’s botanically diverse native trees, its rich history of the oldest urban national park in the country, and introduces the trail network that provides recreation for millions of local residents and visitors annually.

Lecture/Seminar

Longwood Gardens: A Close-up Look

Thursday, June 23, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET

In a virtual tour of Longwood Gardens grounds and newly reopened Orchid House with orchid expert Barb Schmidt, learn how it’s more than beautiful flower displays…it’s an important center for horticultural science.

Lecture/Seminar

Geraldine Brooks on the Heart of a Horse: A Novelist's Portrait

Monday, June 27, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET

In-Person and Online Program: Pulitzer Prize–winning author Geraldine Brooks discusses her newest novel, Horse, which explores art and science, the bond between people and animals, and the continuing story of race and injustice.

Lecture/Seminar

The Cradle of American Gardening: 300 Years of Philadelphia Horticultural History

Thursday, June 30, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET

The Philadelphia region enjoys a tradition of horticulture that goes back to the city's inception in the late 17th century. Explore the cultural, political, economic, and even religious factors that influenced the surprising evolution of gardening and the establishment of world-class horticultural institutions in the region.

Lecture/Seminar

The Hawk's Way: Encounters with Fierce Beauty

Thursday, June 30, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

After spending time with Jazz, a feisty, four-year-old female Harris’s hawk, naturalist Sy Montgomery shares what these magnificent birds of prey can teach us about nature, life, and love.

Lecture/Seminar

Brilliant Blunders: From Darwin to Einstein

Wednesday, July 13, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

Everyone makes mistakes. But were the signature theories of great scientists like Charles Darwin, Lord Kelvin, Linus Pauling, Fred Hoyle, and Albert Einstein free of blunders? Absolutely not. Distinguished astrophysicist Mario Livio demonstrates that mistakes are an essential part of scientific progress.

Lecture/Seminar

Planning Your Dream African Safari: Tips from Safari Guide Russell Gammon

Saturday, July 16, 2022 - 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. ET

Putting together a wildlife-focused visit to Africa can be a daunting experience. Turn to veteran safari guide and National Geographic Expeditions leader Russell Gammon as he unravels the often-bewildering array of destinations, accommodation options, activities, and lesser-known spots that you won’t want to miss in Southern and East Africa.

Lecture/Seminar

A Geologic Tour of Switzerland

Monday, July 18, 2022 - 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

Join a geologist for an overview of the fascinating geology of Switzerland, birthplace of the science of glaciology, as he surveys the evolution of the Alps and the Ice Age glaciation that sculpted the country’s landscape.

Lecture/Seminar

Understanding the Krebs Cycle: The Deep Chemistry of Life and Death

Friday, July 22, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

The Krebs cycle generates the building blocks of life and fuels the furnace of respiration. Biochemist Nick Lane offers an overview of this complex pathway within our cells that could answer questions from the origins of life to the devastation of cancer.

Lecture/Seminar

Why Sharks Matter

Monday, July 25, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

Sharks are some of the most fascinating, ecologically important, threatened, and misunderstood animals on Earth. Touching on everything from Shark Week to shark fin soup, overfishing to marine sanctuaries, conservation biologist David Shiffman reveals why these iconic predators are in trouble, why we should care, and how scientists, conservationists, and individuals can save them.

Lecture/Seminar

Good for the Land, Good for Us: How Farming Can Improve Human Health

Thursday, July 28, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

The health of the soil on farms has a direct relation to the health of crops and livestock—and ultimately, our own. Drawing on their new book What Your Food Ate, David R. Montgomery and Anne Biklé examine why regenerative farming practices, which strengthen the vitality of soil, can also offer untapped potential for improving human health.

Lecture/Seminar

Animal Behavior: How It Evolves and Why It Matters

Wednesday, August 10, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

In an exploration of animal behavior in all its glorious complexity, biologist Marlene Zuk goes beyond the nature-versus-nurture debate to focus on the interaction between genes and the environment. Driving her investigation is an essential question: How does behavior evolve in animals—and humans?

Tour

A Natural History of the Mid-Atlantic: Stories of Calvert County, Maryland

Saturday, August 13, 2022 - 8:15 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. ET

The geography and environment of the Mid-Atlantic was shaped over hundreds of millions of years, reflecting influences from a myriad of natural forces and at least 15,000 years of human habitation. Environmental historian and storyteller Hayden Mathews interprets the many layers of the region’s natural history as he leads a tour to three diverse sites in Calvert County, Maryland.

Lecture/Seminar

Indigenous Civilizations of the Southwest: Transitions and Innovations

Thursday, August 25, 2022 - 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

Recent discoveries suggest that Indigenous peoples have lived in the area we know as the American Southwest for more than 22,000 years. Jon Ghahate of the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque examines how these early inhabitants utilized science-based constructs as they shifted from nomadic hunter-gatherer family groups to more socially complex agrarian communities of thousands of inhabitants.

Lecture/Seminar

The Volcanic Pulse of Italy

Monday, August 29, 2022 - 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

Italy has long been a focal point for the field of volcanology, thanks to many notable sites such as Vesuvius, Etna, Stromboli, and Vulcano. Join volcanologist Kirt Kempter for an exploration of the country’s volcanic past, present, and future.

Lecture/Seminar

Nikola Tesla: An Inventor Re-invents Military Technology

Friday, September 9, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

In the 21st century, the life and accomplishments of inventor, engineer, and futurist Nikola Tesla have risen from almost total obscurity to topics of fresh interest. Author Marc J. Seifer, one of the world’s leading Tesla experts, surveys his most significant discoveries that continue to influence today's military technology and diplomatic strategies.

Tour

Theodore Roosevelt’s North Dakota: Badlands, Bison, and the Making of a Conservationist

September 17 - 21, 2022, 6:00 p.m. to 12:30 p.m. ET

The Badlands of North Dakota transformed Theodore Roosevelt over the course of more than three decades into the kind of vigorous outdoorsman he’d idealized as a youth—and that shaped his public image as president and a passionate conservationist. Experience those landscapes—filled with dramatic vistas, vividly colored canyons, and wandering herds of wild bison—on an extraordinary 5-day study tour.