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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 19
March 6, 2024

Discover the wild side of Puerto Rico, a Caribbean destination that you don’t need a passport to visit. Naturalist Matt Felperin shares his experience birding on the island­—which despite being about the size of Connecticut, boasts a surprising diversity of habitats, climate, and culture. He surveys the variety of endemic bird species that you can’t see anywhere else, as well as other fascinating flora and fauna.


March 10, 2024

Did you know that there is a top-of-the-food-chain predator likely living in your neighborhood? This animal moves silently at speeds of 20 to 40 miles per hour and eats animals twice its size. Not a bear or mountain lion or coyote, it’s a Great Horned Owl, found in every state except Hawaii and in almost every habitat you can imagine. Naturalist Mark H.X. Glenshaw takes a close look at these magnificent creatures.


March 12, 2024

Physician John Whyte, chief medical officer of WebMD, delves into the fascinating microscopic universe of the gut microbiome—a complex community of trillions of microorganisms that play a pivotal role in our overall well-being—to explain how these tiny inhabitants influence our digestion as well as our immune system, metabolism, and even mood. He provides information to empower yourself to make informed choices for a healthier, happier gut and to learn about the factors that can influence it, such as diet and lifestyle choices, stress, and the use of antibiotics and probiotics.


March 15, 2024

Soar into the fascinating world of North American shorebirds, waterfowl, and songbirds at the Bird House at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute. Built in 1928 and reopened in 2023 after a six-year renovation, the Bird House­ reflects a new era in which zoos function as key players in wildlife conservation. Brian Evans, an ornithologist at the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, and members of the Bird House’s animal-care team lead a fascinating immersive exploration of the exhibitions and the science that informs bird conservation.


March 19, 2024

Although it has been centuries since the discovery of Uranus and Neptune lurking at the edge of the solar system, we still know very little about these ice giants. Kathleen Mandt, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Goddard Research Center, highlights what we do know about Uranus and Neptune, why it is imperative that we send a mission to learn more about them, and what that information could tell us about the rest of our solar system—and beyond.


March 20, 2024

Surgeon and author Andrew Lam reveals how the rivalries between Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch, Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin, and the quartet of doctors who warred over credit for the discovery of anesthesia harmed each individual but benefited humankind and saved millions of lives.


March 22, 2024

Soar into the fascinating world of North American shorebirds, waterfowl, and songbirds at the Bird House at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute. Built in 1928 and reopened in 2023 after a six-year renovation, the Bird House­ reflects a new era in which zoos function as key players in wildlife conservation. Brian Evans, an ornithologist at the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, and members of the Bird House’s animal-care team lead a fascinating immersive exploration of the exhibitions and the science that informs bird conservation.


April 4, 2024

With climate change seemingly spiraling out of control, it’s easy to become consumed by anxiety when contemplating the future of our planet. Drawing on her book Not the End of the World: How We Can Be the First Generation to Build a Sustainable Planet, Hannah Ritchie, deputy editor and lead researcher of the online scientific publication Our World in Data, challenges this prevailing narrative. She examines how optimism and lifestyle changes can augment the development of sustainable solutions that preserve nature as well as our own well-being—countering despair with the beginning of a better future.


April 5, 2024

Soar into the fascinating world of North American shorebirds, waterfowl, and songbirds at the Bird House at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute. Built in 1928 and reopened in 2023 after a six-year renovation, the Bird House­ reflects a new era in which zoos function as key players in wildlife conservation. Brian Evans, an ornithologist at the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, and members of the Bird House’s animal-care team lead a fascinating immersive exploration of the exhibitions and the science that informs bird conservation.


April 9, 2024

Dogs have been considered people’s best friend for thousands of years, but never has the relationship between humans and their canine companions been as important as it is in today’s world. Jen Golbeck, the “internet’s dog mom” and science writer Stacey Colino, authors of The Purest Bond: Understanding the Human–Canine Connection, reveal the benefits our dogs can have on our physical, emotional, cognitive, and social well-being, often without our realizing it.


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