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Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful

Science & Nature Programs

A Mountain Rail Extravaganza

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

Date of event
Depart: Friday, June 5, 2020 - 8:00 a.m.
Return: Sunday, June 7, 2020 - 7:30 p.m.

Spring in the Brandywine River Valley

The beautiful Brandywine region is an ideal destination for lovers of art, grand houses and gardens, and American history. Join Hayden Mathews, an environmental and cultural history interpreter, in locations in Delaware and Pennsylvania that vividly capture the area’s heritage.

Date of event
Depart: Sunday, June 14, 2020 - 7:30 a.m.
Return: Monday, June 15, 2020 - 7:00 p.m.

Smithsonian Sleepover at the Natural History Museum

Family Program: (Ages 8 to 14) Go on an interactive exploration of the Natural History Museum and participate in hands-on crafts projects and games. Then roll out your sleeping bag and dream away in the darkened halls of one of the world’s most famous museums!

Date of event
Friday, June 19, 2020 - 7:00 p.m.

The Greening of Religion: Ethics and the Environment

Christian churches and other world religions are increasingly incorporating environmentalism into their teachings. Ethicist and author William Barbieri explores how and why these religious traditions are responding to ecological challenges, and what we can learn from this process regarding the role of religions in the modern world.

Date of event
Wednesday, June 24, 2020 - 6:45 p.m.

Desktop Orchids

Live Streaming

This class focuses on the ideal requirements for orchids to thrive and bloom. Learn how to introduce the right growing conditions into a home or office setting.

Date of event
Monday, June 29, 2020 - 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Bird Brains: How Birds Talk, Work, Play, Parent, and Think

Scientists are reevaluating the traditional view of how birds conduct their lives, uncovering a remarkable intelligence that encompasses actions once considered uniquely human. From avian cheating and kidnapping to collaboration and altruism, author Jennifer Ackerman discusses her investigation into the bird way of being.

Date of event
Wednesday, July 15, 2020 - 6:45 p.m.

Auroras: Nature's Light Show

Humans have watched the Northern Lights in awe for centuries, but only recently have scientists been able to fully understand how and why auroras exist. Kelly Beatty, senior editor of Sky & Telescope magazine, explores their origins of these dancing curtains of light, the fanciful explanations once given for them, and when and where you're most likely to see an auroral display.

Date of event
Thursday, July 16, 2020 - 6:45 p.m.

Smithsonian Sleepover at the Natural History Museum

Family Program: (Ages 8 to 14) Go on an interactive exploration of the Natural History Museum and participate in hands-on crafts projects and games. Then roll out your sleeping bag and dream away in the darkened halls of one of the world’s most famous museums!

Date of event
Friday, July 17, 2020 - 7:00 p.m.

Underground Virginia: Caves of the Shenandoah

Find out why Virginia’s caves never fail to dazzle visitors during a visit to realms of wonder eons in the making in the scenic Shenandoah Valley. With Gregg Clemmer as your guide, explore two of the region’s great caverns—Skyline  Caverns and Endless Caverns—from their stone columns and draperies to anthodites and dog-toothed spars.

Date of event
Saturday, July 18, 2020 - 7:30 a.m.

Hacking Darwin: Genetic Engineering and the Future of Humanity

As our DNA becomes as readable, writable, and hackable as our information technology, the choices made today could be the difference between advances in human well-being or a genetic arms race. Jamie Metzl, a technology and healthcare futurist and geopolitical expert, explores the many ways genetic engineering is shaking the core foundations of our lives: sex, war, love, and death.

Date of event
Thursday, July 30, 2020 - 6:45 p.m.

Smithsonian Sleepover at the Natural History Museum

Family Program: (Ages 8 to 14) Go on an interactive exploration of the Natural History Museum and participate in hands-on crafts projects and games. Then roll out your sleeping bag and dream away in the darkened halls of one of the world’s most famous museums!

Date of event
Friday, August 7, 2020 - 7:00 p.m.

Into the Planet: The Science and Exploration of Underwater Caves

Join cave diver Jill Heinerth, as she recounts her journeys to remote water-filled caves from Antarctica and Siberia to Bermuda and the Bahamas. She offers images and videos about tiny venomous cave inhabitants, archaeological remains of the Mayan people, and ancient lofty stalagmites that tell the story of earth before humans.

Date of event
Wednesday, August 12, 2020 - 6:45 p.m.

Smithsonian Sleepover at the Natural History Museum

Family Program: (Ages 8 to 14) Go on an interactive exploration of the Natural History Museum and participate in hands-on crafts projects and games. Then roll out your sleeping bag and dream away in the darkened halls of one of the world’s most famous museums!

Date of event
Friday, August 14, 2020 - 7:00 p.m.

Global Climate Justice: What Does It Mean?

The question of how to meet the challenges of climate change continues to take on an increasingly larger role in the worldwide debate about the future of our planet. Olúfémi O. Táíwò, an assistant professor of political philosophy and ethics at Georgetown University, provides an overview of these issues as he examines the range of pathways that are under discussion by communities, countries, and policymakers.

Date of event
Tuesday, September 1, 2020 - 6:45 p.m.

The Language of Butterflies: A Message of Hope

The fragile beauty and astounding endurance of butterflies have long fascinated us. Science journalist Wendy Williams looks at how scientists, gardeners, naturalists, and citizen scientists joined together to decipher the secrets of butterflies in order to protect them—and to learn what they might tell us about meeting the challenges of climate change.

Date of event
Wednesday, September 2, 2020 - 6:45 p.m.

Composting 101

Composting can help to reduce waste, enrich soil, and limit the use of harmful fertilizers. Spend an afternoon with Niraj Ray, founder of Cultivate the City rooftop farm, and get tips on how you can start composting at home.

Date of event
Sunday, September 13, 2020 - 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

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

The rugged landscape of western North Dakota was the setting against which Theodore Roosevelt transformed himself from an asthmatic 24-year-old into a robust outdoorsman—and a passionate lifelong conservationist. Experience that corner of the West—filled with dramatic vistas, vividly colored canyons, and wandering herds of wild bison—on an extraordinary tour that brings you into the heart of Roosevelt’s Badlands and the national park that bears his name.

Date of event
Depart: Saturday, September 19, 2020 - 6 p.m.
Return: Wednesday, September 23, 2020 - Mid-afternoon

Celebrating 50 Years: Smithsonian Magazine and Earth Day

Smithsonian magazine was launched in the spring of 1970—as was the first Earth Day—and from the start it has been the trusted go-to source on the natural world and environmental issues. Mark these anniversaries by revisiting some of the magazine’s first articles about how we understand our planet with the journalists, photographers, and other experts who brought these stories to life.

Date of event
Friday, September 25, 2020 - 7:00 p.m.

Galileo: Lessons from a Great Scientist

For Albert Einstein, Galileo Galilei was “the father of modern physics—indeed, of modern science altogether.” Astrophysicist Mario Livio examines Galileo’s monumental achievements in astronomy, mechanics, and the development of the scientific method.

Date of event
Wednesday, October 7, 2020 - 6:45 p.m.

An Immersion in Nature: Japanese “Forest Bathing”—Urban Style

Learn the benefits of quiet time spent in touch with nature as Melanie Choukas-Bradley, a certified nature and forest-therapy guide and author of The Joy of Forest Bathing, leads a 2-hour walk in the Smithsonian’s beautiful Enid A. Haupt Garden.

Date of event
Tuesday, October 20, 2020 - 8:45 a.m.

Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary

How can you tell a downy woodpecker from a hairy one? A Cooper’s hawk from a sharp-shinned hawk? Liana Vitali, naturalist and educator at Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary, shares tips, facts, and resources for dedicated birders and birding beginners alike.

Date of event
Wednesday, October 21, 2020 - 6:45 p.m.

An Immersion in Nature: Japanese “Forest Bathing”—Urban Style

Learn the benefits of quiet time spent in touch with nature as Melanie Choukas-Bradley, a certified nature and forest-therapy guide and author of The Joy of Forest Bathing, leads a 2-hour walk in the Smithsonian’s beautiful Enid A. Haupt Garden.

Date of event
Tuesday, October 27, 2020 - 8:45 a.m.

Are Humans Naturally Good or Bad?

For centuries, philosophers have attempted to answer the question of whether humans are naturally good or evil without any definitive results. Evolutionary biologist Rui Diogo turns instead to the sciences, anthropology, history, sociology, and other fields to examine at what empirical data says about our basic nature—and offers some surprising insights into this age-old inquiry.

Date of event
Thursday, November 5, 2020 - 6:45 p.m.

The Smithsonian Greenhouses and How They Grow

One of the joys of a Smithsonian visit in any season is the gloriously varied greenery and flowers that brighten your paths indoors and out. Get a preview of what spring will look like on the National Mall with a visit to the source of all that natural beauty: the Smithsonian Gardens greenhouse facility in Suitland, Maryland.

Date of event
Thursday, November 19, 2020 - 12:30 p.m.