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Science & Nature Programs

Southern Maryland’s Calvert Cliffs are a vivid remnant of the Chesapeake Bay’s prehistoric past. Stephen Godfrey, a Smithsonian research associate and curator of paleontology at the Calvert Marine Museum, traces the fascinating history of the cliffs, discusses the amazing diversity of fossils that they preserve, and the picture they present of the Mid-Atlantic environment during the Miocene epoch.

Event date
Wednesday, April 24, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Medicinal plants have a long history across civilizations, and are garnering attention as the influences of herbalism and natural medicine move into the mainstream. Join Niraj Ray, founder of Cultivate the City, on the rooftop of its urban farm and learn how to utilize a diversity of these plants for both food and medical purposes.

Event date
Sunday, April 28, 2019 - 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Animal behavior expert Frans de Waal’s fascinating explorations into the social and emotional lives of primates have revealed that humans are not the only species with the capacity for love, hate, fear, shame, joy, or generosity. Drawing on his newest book, Mama’s Last Hug, he examines the remarkable emotional continuity between our species and others.

Event date
Monday, April 29, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

The National Arboretum, one of D.C.’s best-kept secrets, is home to 9 miles of winding parkland roads covering more than 450 acres. Enjoy a spring day outdoors during what is usually the peak blooming time for azaleas, dogwoods, and seasonal wildflowers.

Event date
Wednesday, May 1, 2019 - 9:15 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Evolving discoveries in biology point to the promise of cancer-detecting nanoparticles, mind-reading bionic limbs, and computer-engineered crops. Neuroscientist Susan Hockfield, former president of MIT, surveys how the intersection of bioengineering and technology may hold solutions for addressing some of the greatest humanitarian, medical, and environmental challenges of our time.

Event date
Monday, May 6, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Mark W. Moffett, a biologist and Smithsonian research associate in entomology, examines findings in psychology, sociology, and anthropology that explain the social adaptations that bind members of societies, and explores how the tension between identity and anonymity defines how those groups work—and sometimes don’t.

Event date
Wednesday, May 8, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Food historian Robyn Metcalfe explores an often-overlooked aspect of the global food system: how food moves from producer to consumer. She finds that the food supply chain is adapting to our increasingly complex demands for both personalization and convenience. But the future, she says, may bring changes to how we think about our food and our relationship to it.

Event date
Monday, May 13, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Family Program: (Ages 8 to 14) Go on an interactive exploration of the Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. Then roll out your sleeping bag and dream away in the halls of one of the world’s most famous museums!

Event date
May 18 - 19, 2019, 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m.

In a two-day active getaway designed for outdoor lovers, explore Blue Ridge trails at the height of their spring beauty, and stay at an historic lodge on Skyline Drive that offers magnificent panoramic views of the mountain landscapes.

Event date
Depart: Sunday, May 19, 2019 - 8:30 a.m.
Return: Monday, May 20, 2019 - 7:30 p.m.

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.

Event date
Wednesday, May 22, 2019 - 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

Energy executive Daniel Poneman, senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School and a former deputy secretary of the Department of Energy and member of the National Security Council, argues that a new approach to global energy policy can enhance the ability of nuclear power to combat climate change even as we reduce the risks of nuclear terror.

Event date
Wednesday, May 22, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Get an overview of everything you need to know to capture natural specimens in beautiful botanical illustrations. Examples from the Smithsonian’s archives and real plant specimens enhance the workshop experience.

Event date
Saturday, June 1, 2019 - 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Did you know there is rural beauty nearby to Washington that rivals the English countryside or Provence? Spend a June day with author and naturalist Melanie Choukas-Bradley as she shares some of her favorite places in a slice of paradise bordering the Frederick County line.

Event date
Friday, June 7, 2019 - 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Tangier Island is a community inextricably connected to the Chesapeake Bay. Join naturalist Keith Tomlinson as he leads a day devoted to discovering the island’s unique charms and attractions—on both land and water.

Event date
Sunday, June 9, 2019 - 6:45 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Many of California’s winemakers and produce growers have become leaders in bringing new agricultural approaches to their farms and vineyards. Drawing on her book, Wine Country Table, food writer Janet Fletcher leads a virtual road trip that shares images and stories from her visits to locations that represent the future of responsible farming and winegrowing—and offers recipes and tips to take advantage of California’s year-round cornucopia.

Event date
Thursday, June 13, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Join acclaimed herpetologist Romulus Whitaker for a fascinating discussion about his work on snakebite mitigation, India’s iconic snakes, and his ongoing efforts to preserve reptile habitats. Little wonder a species of Indian boa, Eryx whitakeri, was named in his honor.

Event date
Sunday, June 16, 2019 - 2:00 p.m.

Beautiful landscapes, fountains, and flowers provide inspiration for painters in this intensive morning course held at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, Maryland. Through lectures, demonstrations, and individual experimentation, students explore a variety of painting and drawing techniques, composition, and perspective.

Event date
Monday, June 17 to Thursday, June 20, 2019 – 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

The latest developments in imagining technology are uncovering centuries-old secrets hidden in fire- and water-damaged manuscripts, drawings, old books, and ephemera. Michael B. Toth, a specialist in the field, discusses recent projects, including ones that that provided insights into Shakespeare’s first folios and revelations about Ben Franklin found beneath an ink spill.

Event date
Tuesday, June 18, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

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!

Event date
June 21 - 22, 2019, 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m.

Tangier Island is a community inextricably connected to the Chesapeake Bay. Join naturalist Keith Tomlinson as he leads a day devoted to discovering the island’s unique charms and attractions—on both land and water.

Event date
Sunday, June 23, 2019 - 6:45 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

During six seasons on AMC, Walter White, the antihero of “Breaking Bad” practiced a lot of ad-hoc chemistry. But how much of it was actually scientific? Join the show’s science advisor, chemistry professor Donna Nelson, and scientist Marius Stan, who appeared as an actor, to learn how the series mixed fictional storylines with professionally accurate facts.

Event date
Tuesday, June 25, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Washington, D.C., was the first municipality to be recognized a leading sustainable city by the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED for Cities initiative. Spend a day with Bill Keene, a lecturer in history, urban studies, and architecture, for a close-up look at several sites—from the Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant to an elementary-school garden—that play a role in creating a greener nation’s capital.

Event date
Friday, June 28, 2019 - 9:30 a.m. to 5:45 p.m.

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!

Event date
June 28 - 29, 2019, 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m.

One of North America’s most awe-inspiring natural wonders is the perfect destination for a visit that includes all the don’t-miss attractions of Niagara Falls—and a memorable dinner in one of Ontario’s most historic and charming towns.

Event date
Depart: Thursday, July 11, 2019 - 7:00 a.m.
Return: Saturday, July 13, 2019 - 8:30 p.m.

Family Program: (Ages 8 to 14) Go on an interactive exploration of the Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. Then roll out your sleeping bag and dream away in the halls of one of the world’s most famous museums!

Event date
July 13 - 14, 2019, 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m.

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!

Event date
July 19 - 20, 2019, 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m.

Staten Island is a destination often overlooked by visitors—and fellow New Yorkers. On a 2-day excursion, arts journalist Richard Selden uncovers an array of cultural, historical, and architectural attractions that prove that this island the size of Bermuda deserves to shake off its underdog reputation.

Event date
Depart: Sunday, July 21, 2019 - 8:00 a.m.
Return: Monday, July 22, 2019 - 9:00 p.m.

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!

Event date
July 26 - 27, 2019, 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m.

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!

Event date
August 2 - 3, 2019, 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m.

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!

Event date
August 9 - 10, 2019, 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m.

Family Program: (Ages 8 to 14) Go on an interactive exploration of the Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. Then roll out your sleeping bag and dream away in the halls of one of the world’s most famous museums!

Event date
August 17 - 18, 2019, 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m.

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.

Event date
Depart from Bismarck, ND: Sunday, September 15, 2019 - 6:00 p.m.
Return to Bismarck, ND: Thursday, September 19, 2019 - 1:00 p.m.