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Inside Science, Smithsonian Associates Science Literacy

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Expand your knowledge and understanding of science in all its forms!

About Inside Science

Inside Science is an ongoing series of expert-led programming. It is also a community of like-minded participants who have the opportunity to participate in a lively online learning exchange.

Whether you're a science fan or curious about the world around you, Inside Science offers a valuable and rewarding way to better understand science in the context of our lives.

What is "science literacy"?

According to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, science literacy is the “understanding of scientific processes and practices, familiarity with how science and scientists work, a capacity to weigh and evaluate the products of science, and an ability to engage in civic decisions about the value of science.”

We believe that everyone has the capacity to be a “science person,” and that when empowered with information, individuals can feel comfortable with scientific concepts and apply their knowledge to the world around them. Smithsonian Associates programs offer opportunities to expand and deepen your scientific literacy.


Topic Areas & Programs

There are ten science topic areas of interest for you to use as a guideline with Inside Science programming. These categories will assist you in viewing upcoming programs.

All upcoming programs

Showing programs 1 to 10 of 16
April 16, 2024

The New Horizons mission, which flew by Pluto in 2015, revealed a number of surprises: nitrogen glaciers, vast fields of organic compounds, ice volcanoes, geological hints that the world is relatively new, and evidence pointing to an internal ocean of water. Planetary scientist Michael Summers describes how the New Horizons mission revolutionized how we view the most distant worlds in our solar system.


April 26, 2024

Discover the world’s deadliest caterpillars; a butterfly that shares its world with polar bears at one extreme and penguins at the other; and screaming moths that can jam the sonar of predatory bats. Wildlife documentary filmmaker Steve Nicholls looks at why it seems there’s no end to the tricks that evolution has come up with as it turned the Lepidoptera into one of the most successful of all insect groups.


April 28 to April 29, 2024
In-Person
$560 - $835

Assateague Island National Seashore and Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge are home to natural splendor, cultural treasures, and coastal charm. Spend two days with naturalist and educator Liana Vitali immersed in island life, exploring the natural wonders the barrier islands have to offer—and hear the lore of the Chincoteague ponies’ origin.


April 30, 2024

The COVID-19 pandemic won't be our last, says biological anthropologist Sabrina Sholts of the National Museum of Natural History, because what makes us vulnerable to pandemics also makes us human. Drawing on her new book, The Human Disease: How We Create Pandemics, from Our Bodies to Our Beliefs, Sholts travels through history and around the globe to examine how and why such pandemics and many other infectious disease events are an inescapable threat of our own making.


May 9, 2024

From beneficial yeasts that aid digestion to toxic molds that cause disease, we are constantly navigating a world filled with fungi. Drawing on the latest advances in mycology, biologist Nicholas P. Money explores the amazing ways fungi interact with our bodies, showing how our health and well-being depend on an immense ecosystem of yeasts and molds inside and all around us.


May 14, 2024

Silk, prized for its lightness, luminosity, and beauty is also one of the strongest biological materials known. The technologies it has inspired—from sutures to pharmaceuticals, replacement body parts to holograms—continue to be developed in laboratories around the world. Author Aarathi Prasad outlines the cultural and scientific history of the fabric including its origins, the ancient silk routes, and its future as a powerful resource.


May 21, 2024

Humans have long thought of their bodies and minds as separate spheres of existence, with the body as physical and the mind as mental. But such thinking is a barrier to discovery and understanding, and a new framework is needed, argues neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux. He shares his latest research, which says that human beings are a composite of four fundamental realms of existence—biological, neurobiological, cognitive, and conscious. Together our realms account for all of what and who we are, LeDoux says.


May 21, 2024

In the distant past, people were both awed and alarmed by comets. We now know that comets are leftovers from the dawn of our solar system around 4.6 billion years ago. They may yield important clues about the solar system’s formation. Carey Lisse, an astronomer at Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory, highlights what we know about comets and what we are still hoping to find out.


May 29, 2024

Tucked away along coastal Maine, Hog Island is the home of a National Audubon Society camp that has been operation since 1936. Isolated from the outside world and filled with both pristine forest and coastal habitats, the surrounding Muscongus Bay teems with terns, bald eagles, common eiders, and seals. Naturalist Matt Felperin shares his experiences at the camp, displays striking wildlife photos, and reveals why Hog Island should be on your bucket list of nature-education programs.


June 3, 2024

The earliest known copy of work by Archimedes. Gutenberg and other early Bibles and Muslim manuscripts. Historical astronomical plates. All these historical objects have been digitized by Michael B. Toth, president of R. B. Toth Associates, and his colleagues in humanities and science. Toth discusses ongoing work on historic objects and offers examples of texts and objects that have been digitized using the latest advanced imaging systems.


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