Science How? Webcasts

The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and the Fairfax Network bring Smithsonian resources and expertise to students and educators.

Audience: Students in Grades 6-8
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Through a partnership with the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, the Fairfax Network is able to offer the Smithsonian Science How webcasts to middle school students. Each webcast provides students with positive STEM role models, information about science careers and pathways, and connections to current research. Students see how scientists and other experts use tools and technology in their work.

The following Smithsonian Science How? webcasts are available for video download from the Fairfax Network. Please use the Science How? Video Link Request Form to request the video file(s).

Earth Science

  • Astrogeology: Meteorites and Spacecraft Missions — Geologist Tim McCoy discusses what meteorites can tell us about the formation of the solar system.
  • Exploring the Solar System with Antarctic Meteorites — Geologist Cari Corrigan shares how she searches for meteorites in Antarctica and analyzes them using modern laboratory techniques.
  • How Volcanic Eruptions Send Materials Up and Out — Geologist Ben Andrews explores the physics of explosive eruptions.
  • Mineral Dependence: From Gemstones to Cellphones — Geologist Michael Wise studies unusual rocks called pegmatites, which he considers to be "Nature’s Giant Treasure Chests."
  • Mineral Transformations: Demystifying Microbes — Geologist Cara Santelli studies the relationship between minerals and microbes, such as bacteria and fungi.
  • Volcano Geochemistry: Windows to Earth's Interior — Geologist Elizabeth Cottrell explains how volcanoes form, how they work, and what comes out of them.
  • What Tiny Fossils Explain about Big Dinosaur Ecosystems — Paleontologist Matthew Carrano shares what tiny fossils can reveal that complete, large dinosaur skeletons may not.
  • What Tiny Marine Fossils Reveal about Extinction — Paleontologist Gene Hunt explains how he uses fossils to study a marine extinction mystery.

Life Science

  • A Century of Discovery of Sea Urchins and Relatives — Zoologist Dave Pawson studies echinoderms in the deep sea, including sea urchins, sea stars, and sea cucumbers.
  • Arthropod Adaptations: Inside the Insect Zoo — Former O. Orkin Insect Zoo Manager Dan Babbitt highlights the adaptations of insects and other arthropods.
  • Assassin Flies: Predators of the Insect World — Entomologist Torsten Dikow discusses the evolution, biodiversity, and behavior of assassin flies.
  • Bird Extinctions: Time Travel through Lava Tubes — Ornithologist Helen James explains what prehistoric evidence can tell you about bird extinctions.
  • Butterfly Adaptations: How They Come By Their Colors — Butterfly Pavilion Manager Eric Wenzel and Microscopy Educator Juan Pablo Hurtado Padilla explore color patterns and the detailed wing structures that give butterflies their colors.
  • Deep-Ocean Discovery: Octopods and Squids — Zoologist Mike Vecchione describes octopods and squids that have been discovered in the deep ocean, and the tools used to make deep-sea discoveries.
  • Exploring the Unexplored: Deep Reef Biodiversity — Marine biologist Carole Baldwin studies fish diversity on coral reefs at depths of 200-1,000 feet.
  • The Evolution of Agriculture in Ants — Entomologist Ted Schultz shares the evolutionary history of farming in ants.
  • Ferns: Curious Life Cycles and Remarkable Biodiversity — Botanist Eric Schuettpelz reveals the unique life cycles of ferns and highlights some of their adaptations.
  • Forensic Ornithology: Bird Detective — Ornithologist Carla Dove shares how the Feather Identification Lab helps make us safer on planes.
  • Fossil Forensics: Plant and Insect Relationships — Paleobiologist Conrad Labandeira, who studies the associations between insects and plants.
  • Global Change: Reading Ocean Fossils — Paleobiologist Brian Huber explains why tiny organisms called foraminifera are great indicators of changes in global environmental conditions.
  • How Fossils Explain the Rise of Dinosaurs — Paleontologist Hans Sues explains how dinosaurs rose to prominence after a mass extinction event 200 million years ago.
  • How to Discover a New Mammal Species — Zoologist Kristofer Helgen relies on both field work and museum collections to identify new species.
  • Human Impacts and Extinction of Freshwater Snails — Zoologist Ellen Strong explains the roles freshwater snails play in ecosystems and how human activities put them at risk.
  • Inside the Smithsonian’s Fossil Prep Lab — Smithsonian Fossil Preparator Michelle Pinsdorf demonstrates how she cleans and prepares fossils for study and display.
  • Living Together: Parasites and Hosts — Zoologist Anna Phillips shares the importance of parasites and how they relate to their hosts.
  • Mass Extinction: Solving the Dinosaur Mystery — Paleobotanist Kirk Johnson explains what happened at the end of the Cretaceous, 66 million years ago.
  • Measuring Biodiversity: Life in One Cubic Foot — Marine biologist Chris Meyer uses “reef hotels” to study the biodiversity of coral reefs in Indonesia and French Polynesia.
  • Ocean Biodiversity: Discovering Marine Invertebrates — Zoologist Karen Osborn explains how she discovers and names new species of marine invertebrates, such as acorn worms.
  • Paleobiology: Unearthing Fossil Whales — Paleontologist Nick Pyenson explains how fossil whales reveal environments of the past.
  • Paleobotany: Climate Change Past and Present — Paleobotanist Scott Wing reveals evidence for changes in plant communities during a distinct global warming event about 56 million years ago.
  • Powerful Predators: Adaptations of Trap-Jaw Spiders — Entomologist Hannah Wood explains how she studies tiny trap-jaw spiders.

Social Studies

  • Culture and Climate Change in the Arctic — Archaeologist Bill Fitzhugh shares how people in the Arctic have coped with extreme conditions for thousands of years.
  • Forensic Anthropology: Bone Whispering — Forensic anthropologist Kari Bruwelheide reveals how human bones can tell stories of people's lives in the past.
  • How Bones Reveal Environmental Health — Anthropologist Sabrina Sholts studies skeletons, particularly skulls, to understand the impacts of environmental toxins.
  • Human Evolution: Early Human Diets — Anthropologist Briana Pobiner explores the influence of diet, especially the shift to meat eating, on human evolution.
  • Island Biodiversity: Tracking Human Influences — Archaeologist Torben Rick talks about the impacts early inhabitants of North America had on island and coastal ecosystems.
  • Mummy Science: Natural and Cultural Preserved Remains — Anthropologist David Hunt explains how he uses modern technology to unwrap the secrets of mummies.
  • Recovering Voices: Sustaining Global Linguistic Diversity — Smithsonian linguist Gabriela Pérez Báez discusses the world's incredible diversity of languages and the wealth of knowledge and information they hold.
  • Unseen Connections: A Natural History of the Cellphone — Anthropologist Joshua A. Bell discusses the life cycle of a cellphone and the social implications of the device becoming one of our most intimate possessions.

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