Smithsonian Teacher Night, Take Two

Washington Travel Blog

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in the same room as the Hope Diamond
Having enjoyed Smithsonian Teacher Night last year, I decided to go again this year.  The event shifts location annually; tonight I found myself in the Museum of Natural History.
I had forgotten my registration ticket at home and had needed to go back, thus being delayed about 20 minutes.  The delay turned out to be advantageous; as I walked into the museum and received my complimentary bag, the volunteer told me that for my patience (I had had to wait all of ten seconds for their attention), I had a door prize coming my way.  Sure enough, when I looked in the bag, a paper announced my winning of a door prize (which would be a baseball cap that said "Smithsonian Teacher Night 2005").  My first exciting moment of the evening :)
Upstairs, I snagged a ticket for an 8:15 visit to the butterflies.
overlooking Dinosaurs
  I swung by the Hope Diamond and then used the stairs in the Dinosaur Hall to make my way back down to the first floor.  I paused to overlook the hall, quiet but filled with history in the form of skeletal reptiles.  As I was leaving the exhibit, an employee asked me if I had seen the Fossil Lab.  At my negative response, he encouraged me to go take a look; they were working that night and one of the main artifacts was part of a T-rex.
I walked into the small lab with definite curiosity.  I had never had an opportunity like this before.  One woman offered her microscope, and I could see teeth so tiny that a delicate, wet paintbrush was the only way they could be picked up.  Another lady explained how her air drill was slowly revealing a 50-million year old leaf.
the protective sheaf
  My next big excitement though was when the gentleman working in the lab offered to tell me about the protective sheaths they were making for the bones.  He used the sheath surrounding part of a whale jaw as the example.  I smiled when he mentioned that the bone was from Calvert Cliffs, my part of the world.  A few minutes later, I found an even closer connection to the fossil; it had actually come from a beach ten minutes from my house.  I made sure to thank the original employee who had directed me to the lab.
I shuffled my way through the crowded second floor hallways to return to the Butterfly Pavilion.  A humid 88 degrees, the double igloo-like structure houses approximately 300 species from across the world.  I loved watching the butterflies and moths flutter around, landing on plants, finding a snack on the slices of pineapples, bananas, and cantaloupes.
Owl butterfly
  Their lifetimes are so short and yet they are so beautiful.  The vibrant colors and intricate designs fascinated me.
After my walk past the wings, I cut through a few other exhibits (Insect Zoo, Forensics, Western Cultures where I found the Trojan artifacts as usual) but did not spend much time looking at them since I've seen them before.
I took advantage of a rare opportunity to visit the Discovery Room, normally restricted to children.  I've always loved the hands-on aspect of these learning centers.
My evening winding down, I headed out the front door with a small but steady flow of other teachers.  On my walk back to the Smithsonian Metro, I enjoyed the brilliant white of the Capitol and Washington Monument.
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in the same room as the Hope Diamo…
in the same room as the Hope Diam…
overlooking Dinosaurs
overlooking Dinosaurs
the protective sheaf
the protective sheaf
Owl butterfly
Owl butterfly
ancient flyer
ancient flyer
T-rex bone
T-rex bone
at the microscope
at the microscope
in the Butterfly Pavillion
in the Butterfly Pavillion
the cameras focus is on the small…
the camera's focus is on the smal…
in the Discovery Room
in the Discovery Room
boxes in the Discovery Room
boxes in the Discovery Room
looking up into the Rotunda
looking up into the Rotunda
flag over the Castle
flag over the Castle
Washington Monument
Washington Monument