National Museum Of Natural History Smithsonian Teacher's Sheet

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  • 1. Teacher’s Sheet with Key THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY SMITHSONIAN RESEARCH The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) is dedicated to inspiring curiosity, discovery, and learning about the natural world through its unparalleled research, collections, exhibitions, and education outreach programs. At the center of the Museum's activities are its expertly documented collections: more than 125 million natural science specimens and cultural artifacts including 30 million insects, 4½ million plants, 7 million fish, and 2 million cultural artifacts. The main building on the National Mall welcomes millions of visitors each year, and with a growing network of interactive websites, the Museum is transforming itself into a hub for national and international electronic education. PRE –VIEWING Group Work Students work in groups of three to discuss the following questions: 1. What are museums? 2. What kind of museums have you visited up to now? 3. What professionals work in a museum? 4. What do they generally do there? 5. What can you see in a national history museum? WHILE - VIEWING FIRST VIEWING Activity 1 Turn the sound off. Students watch the video and, in trios, they talk about the scenes and try to guess what the people are doing. Activity 2 The teacher shows the video again with the sound off. The students receive the video script in the form of slips, each containing a section of the content that is shown in the video. After the teacher shows each segment of the video, the students select the corresponding slip. At the end, students will have the reading in its entirety and in the correct order.
  • 2. VIDEO SCRIPT Each day at the museum we explore new frontiers of science. I use genetic tools to study how new bird species arise in nature. The research I am doing now is looking at a group of trees from the Amazon and trying to make sense of how the species might be related. My researches are mammals; for example, with colleagues from the National Museum of Mexico, we examine this deer and were able to prove their relationship to several species. I’m using modern genetic methods to look at the evolutionary history of plants – questions such as which species gave rise to the lima bean, although perhaps that’s not something that everyone would be excited about. These and other projects may seem highly specialized. Yet, this research broadens our scientific knowledge. At the same time, we use our expertise for practical problems. Well, birds like to hang out at airports and they often get in the way of airplanes when they take off and land. Often they get sucked into the engine. Sometimes they strike the windshield. We match up feathers, we match up beaks and talons… we have about 650,000 specimens here that we can use as a reference to make the identification, so that airport managers and pilots can learn to avoid the species that they are hitting. Another research program looks at unusually high death rates among dolphins. These coastal bottlenose dolphins… they all live within three miles of the coast. We are using their living room as our recreation area and it’s our impact on them that concerns us. We actually go out and study the animals in the field and then bring back remains of animals that wash ashore or are caught in fishing nets. It’s by examining the animals themselves that we gain an idea about what they do in their day-to-day lives out in the wild. For most of us, research is both a passion and a privilege. This museum is a scientific institution and research is what we do. SECOND VIEWING The teacher shows the video with the sound on for students to check the correct order.
  • 3. POST-VIEWING Activity 1 The students match each paragraph of the video script to the corresponding statement, which represents the main idea of the paragraph. VIDEO SCRIPT WITH KEY: Each day at the museum we explore new frontiers of science. D I use genetic tools to study how new bird species arise in nature. The research I am doing now is looking at a group of trees from the Amazon and trying G to make sense of how the species might be related. My researches are mammals; for example, with colleagues from the National Museum E of Mexico, we examine this deer and were able to prove their relationship to several species. I’m using modern genetic methods to look at the evolutionary history of plants – B questions such as which species gave rise to the lima bean, although perhaps that’s not something that everyone would be excited about. These and other projects may seem highly specialized. Yet, this research broadens our scientific knowledge. At the same time, we use our expertise for practical problems. Well, birds like to hang out at airports and they often get in the way of airplanes when they take off and land. Often they get sucked into the engine. Sometimes they strike A the windshield. We match up feathers, we match up beaks and talons… we have about 650,000 specimens here that we can use as a reference to make the identification, so that airport managers and pilots can learn to avoid the species that they are hitting. Another research program looks at unusually high death rates among dolphins. These H coastal bottlenose dolphins… they all live within three miles of the coast. We are using their living room as our recreation area and it’s our impact on them that concerns us. We actually go out and study the animals in the field and then bring back remains of animals that wash ashore or are caught in fishing nets. It’s by examining the animals themselves that we gain an idea about what they do in their day-to-day lives out in the wild. For most of us, research is both a passion and a privilege. This museum is a scientific institution and research is what we do.
  • 4. STATEMENTS: A Modern aviation uses species studies to help prevent fatal encounters between man-made machines and habit-directed nature. B This paragraph refers to the development of flora - even that aspect of it which involves our dietary interests. C This paragraph discusses the investigation of collegial competition in the forests of Central America. D This reference mentions researching the origin of avian species. E This paragraph alludes to the connection between various animal species. F This statement refers specifically to the pragmatic application of science to events in human history. G This paragraph mentions the examination of the relationship of several species of South American flora. H Three dimensions of this research help us understand the habits and life-style of a certain sea-bound swimmer Activity 2 Group Work Students work in groups of three to suggest what subject they would like the museum crew to research. Extra Idea As a follow-up activity, you might show the video below as an example of how the research conducted at this museum is applied to a real problem. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpfpfs7YZmU