Skip to Content
  • Language
  • End User
  • Educational Use
  • Time Required

Found 430 Collections


Mary Vaux Walcott, Artist

"Sometimes I feel that I can hardly wait till the time comes to escape from city life, to the free air of the everlasting hills." -Mary Vaux Walcott, Letters to Charles Walcott, Feb 19, 1912.

This collection contains personal selections from the nearly 800 botanical illustrations by Mary Walcott held at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. 

From Wikipedia (March 5, 2019): Mary Morris Vaux[a] was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to a wealthy Quaker family. After graduating from the Friends Select School in Philadelphia in 1879, she took an interest in watercolor painting. When she was not working on the family farm, she began painting illustrations of wildflowers that she saw on family trips to the Rocky Mountains of Canada.[3] During the family summer trips, she and her brothers studied mineralogy and recorded the flow of glaciers in drawings and photographs.[4] The trips to the Canadian Rockies sparked her interest in geology.[3]

In 1880, at the age of nineteen, Vaux took on the responsibility of caring for her father and two younger brothers when her mother died.[5] After 1887, she and her brothers went back to western Canada almost every summer. During this time she became an active mountain climber, outdoors woman, and photographer. Asked one summer to paint a rare blooming arnica by a botanist, she was encouraged to concentrate on botanical illustration.[4] She spent many years exploring the rugged terrain of the Canadian Rockies to find important flowering species to paint. On these trips, Vaux became the first women to accomplish the over 10,000 feet ascent of Mount Stephen.[6] In 1887, on her first transcontinental trip via rail, she wrote an engaging travel journal of the family's four-month trek through the American West and the Canadian Rockies.[7]

Over her father's fierce objections, Mary Vaux married the paleontologist Charles Doolittle Walcott, who was the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, in 1914, when she was 54. She played an active part in her husband's projects, returning to the Rockies with him several times and continuing to paint wildflowers. In 1925, the Smithsonian published some 400 of her illustrations, accompanied by brief descriptions, in a five-volume work entitled North American Wild Flowers. In Washington, Mary became a close friend of First Lady Lou Henry Hoover[5] and raised money to erect the Florida Avenue Meeting House, so that the first Quaker President and his wife would have a proper place to worship. From 1927 to 1932, Mary Vaux Walcott served on the federal Board of Indian Commissioners and, driven by her chauffeur, traveled extensively throughout the American West, diligently visiting reservations.

When she was 75, she made her first trip abroad to Japan to visit lifelong friend and fellow Philadelphia Quaker, Mary Elkington Nitobe, who had married Japanese diplomat Inazo Nitobe.

She was elected president of the Society of Woman Geographers in 1933. In 1935, the Smithsonian published Illustrations of North American Pitcher-Plants, which included 15 paintings by Walcott. Following the death of her husband in 1927, Walcott established the Charles Doolittle Walcott Medal in his honor. It is awarded for scientific work on pre-Cambrian and Cambrian life and history. Walcott died in St. Andrews, New Brunswick.[3]

#fivewomenartists #5womenartists #BecauseOfHerStory

Darren Milligan

Living Things: Parts and Purposes

This collection reinforces the question:

How do the parts of plants and animals help them to grow and survive? 

Students will look for patterns as they observe various plant and animal artifacts to determine the necessary parts for living organisms.

The visible thinking routine of "parts, purposes and complexities" will be at the center of this collection as we analyze the needs of plants and animals and how their parts satisfy those needs.  While we took a deep dive into just a couple of the living things, I've included a few other artifacts for educator choice.  

This collection also utilizes the See, Think, Wonder routine to help pique student interest, build student engagement and introduce the concept of parts and purposes of living things.  

*I paired this lesson with a real world observation of a plant to observe, examine and describe the function of plant parts.


Katie Richter

Planets of the Solar System

Through this collection, students will deepen their understanding of each planet in our solar system.  Pairing the See, Think, Wonder thinking routine with an embroidered quilt of the solar system will peak students' interest in the dwarf planet, Pluto.  After discovering the year that the quilt was made, students can explore the website to learn the history of Pluto.

Using the provided websites, students will work in groups to research a planet.  They will use the obtained information to write a headline that captures the most interesting aspect of the planet and to create a model of the planet.


Jamie Bonacorso

Natural Disasters

Introduction:  How can we use primary sources to learn more about the natural disaster that occur throughout the world. By applying Project Zero routines, student groups explore these disasterss and discuss why and how disasters occur.    


Provide the students with a picture of a street in Italy, before an earthquake. Allow the students to see, think and wonder about this image.   Then show the second image of the same street in Italy, after an earthquake. Allow students to use learning practices to reflect on this photograph. Once the students have finished their observations of the photographs, we want the students to think why does this look like this? Is it the same area or is it different? Why did this happen? The hope is that the  students would connect that image one and image two are of that same street. We would then discuss the similarities and differences of the photographs.  Then we would show them the whole slide by slide photograph, for them to connect.  

Next, show them the additional images of Italy so they students can see before and after photographs.  Discuss the changes in history and why the images may look so different.  Continue going through each of the images and ask how the images have changed and why.  Explain the importance of using recognizing the affect of Natural Disasters to an area and how it affects the area around it.  

Finally, have students look at the last slides website to see an interactive map of an area before an earthquake and after.   



Life Cycle

This collection goes through the life cycle of a butterfly 


Forgotten Elephants of Deep Time with Paleobiologist Advait Jakur

Program Details

  • May 17, 2019
  • Shows are 30 minutes long and stream at 11am and 2pm EDT
  • The program is free, but registration is requested. Sign Up

Did you know that there were many different species of elephants millions of years ago? Go back in time with Paleobiologist Advait Jukar to learn about the different kinds of elephants from the past, see real fossils, and understand how various factors — such as body size, tooth shape, and habitat — each played a role in the evolution of the elephant. Throughout the broadcast, Advait will take questions from your students via text chat and there will be opportunities for students to share what they think using live polls.

How to Participate

  • Bookmark this page! This is where the live event will happen on May 17, 2019, at 11am and then again at 2pm EDT.
  • During the live show, your students will be interacting with the scientist through a chat window on this page.
  • Download the Science How Tech Guide for instructions on preparing for and participating in a webcast. This guide includes recommended viewing guidelines if you’re participating with a group of students.

Viewing and Tech Guide for Science How Webcasts

  • Still have questions? Want to see your students featured on Science How? Email us at

Maggy Benson

Nonrenewable Resource: Coal Mining

This collection can be used to introduce a unit about natural resources and the Industrial Revolution.  Students will have a chance to reflect upon where natural resources come from, the danger of extracting the natural resources, and living conditions of some workers that mined this nonrenewable resources in the past.   #PZPGH

Gretchen Hogue

ORIENTATION | Smithsonian Secretary's Youth Advisory Council (SSYAC) Fall 2018 - Spring 2019

<<This information is relevant to the Fall 2018 - Spring 2019 SSYAC Program.>>

SUPER IMPORTANT: When you click into the tiles, be sure to notice in the upper left hand corner if there is a "paper clip" icon. Clicking on the paperclip icon will lead to more information on a side panel. Some of the tiles will be website links or video links. Tiles marked as PDF or DOC are downloadable information. Within a tile, arrows at the bottom of the screen will navigate you between tiles.

Orientation for new members of the Smithsonian Secretary's Youth Advisory Council (SSYAC) for Fall 2018 - Spring 2019

  • About the Smithsonian Secretary's Youth Advisory Council (SSYAC) -- including forms and other important information
  • About Secretary David J. Skorton
  • About Smithsonian's past and present
  • About Smithsonian Affiliate participants
  • About Smithsonian operations, and policy information helpful to SSYAC members. 
  • Meeting Resources (relevant info related to upcoming meetings will be added closer to meeting dates). 

KEYWORDS: teen council, student engagement

Tracie Spinale

Introduction to the Nature Journal

Lesson plan in which students practice writing and observation skills by keeping nature journals. They observe animals on the National Zoo’s webcam and write about the behaviors they see, making hypotheses based on these observations.
Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

Tale of a Whale and Why It Can Be Told

Multi-step lesson in which students do the work of scientists who study the endangered North Atlantic right whale. They compare photos to identify an individual whale and use a record of sighting to track this whale’s movements along the eastern seaboard.
Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

What's Your Problem? A Look at the Environment in Your Own Backyard

Students take on a local environmental challenge in the lesson plans of this issue of Smithsonian in Your Classroom. Before deciding on a problem to tackle, they try interviewing local folks about the state of the community's environment and how it has changed through the years.

Click the PDF icon to see the Smithsonian in Your Classroom. Then check out oral-history interviewing tips on the site of the Smithsonian Center for Folklife. Also included below is an audio presentation on deer life by Smithsonian scientist Bill McShea.

Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

How Things Fly

A lesson plan introduces students to the four elements of flight - drag, lift, thrust, and weight - through fun-filled experiments. Students "fly" for short periods and then evaluate factors that might either increase or decrease their "flight" duration.

Click the PDF icon to download the issue.

Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

Smithsonian in Your Classroom: "Lewis and Clark and the Language of Discovery"

Lesson plans in this issue focus on Lewis and Clark as keepers of journals. Click on the PDF icon to download. Please also see an interactive map on the site "Lewis & Clark as Naturalists" from the National Museum of Natural History.

Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

Smithsonian in Your Classroom: "Under the Spell of ...Spiders!"

The issue presents curriculum-spanning ways of teaching about arachnids. Includes teacher background, lessons, and a bilingual student page. Click on the PDF icon to download.

Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

Tomorrow's Forecast: Oceans and Weather (1995)

This 1995 issue of Art to Zoo includes printable maps and classroom/take-home activities. Students learn how ocean currents influence weather patterns and climate. They conduct an experiment on the differing heat capacities of water and air, and find and label port cities around the globe. Below are some of the port cities represented in artworks from Smithsonian galleries.

Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

The Universe: An Introduction

This issue of Smithsonian in Your Classroom includes a lesson plan in which the class arranges pictures of heavenly bodies according to the students' best ideas of size, distance, and age. This active introduction to the cosmos can be a pre-assessment for a unit on space science. In a follow-up modeling exercise, relationships in space are brought down to a scale of two inches.

Click on the PDF icons to download the issue and ancillary materials.

Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

Prehistoric Climate Change and Why It Matters Today

In a lesson in this issue of Smithsonian in Your Classroom, students do the work of a team of paleontologists studying a time of rising carbon dioxide and rapid global warming during the Eocene epoch. By examining fossils of tree leaves, and then incorporating the findings into a mathematical formula, they are able to tell average annual temperatures 55 million years ago. Really!

Click the PDF icons to download the issue and additional materials.

Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

Educational Open Course Resources

Open educational resources (OERs) are learning materials that can be modified and enhanced because their creators have given others permission to do so. The individuals or organizations that create OERs—which can include materials like presentation slides, lesson plans, lecture videos, and even entire textbooks. Some educators suggest that OERs might help reduce costs associated with producing and distributing course materials in both primary and secondary educational institutions. Teachers can download these materials—often at low costs—for use in their classrooms, but they can also update these materials and share their contributions with others, keeping content timely, relevant, and accurate. In this way, they needn't wait for textbook companies to issue entirely new editions of their (traditionally copyrighted) learning materials.

Sarah Daren

Sustainable Design

Students identify needs in their community and design a building to fit that need using Agency by Design framework and protocols. Designed for Environmental Science and Sculpture High School students.
Ashley Beck

Highlights Collection: Invention and Innovation

This is a Smithsonian Learning Lab topical collection, which contains images, text, and other multimedia resources that may complement the Tween Tribune feature, How a children's toy could help fight malaria. Use these resources to introduce or augment your study of this topic. If you want to personalize this collection by changing or adding content, click the Sign Up link above to create a free account.  If you are already logged in, click the copy button to initiate your own version. Learn more here

Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

Area Architects--Quay Dorsey

This is an overview of an area and coding project 3rd grade students completed this year. 

Quay Dorsey

The Children Raised Kale: From Seed to Maturity

Activities in this issue of Art to Zoo introduce students to gardening and plants. Knowledge of plant parts and products is tested after a class visit to a garden. The students themselves grow a crop that seems to mean more to us now than it did when the issue was published in 1983: the currently fashionable kale. Click the PDF icon to download the issue. 

Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

Going...Going...Gone? Tropical Rainforests

Activities in this 1988 issue of Art to Zoo help students better understand the plant and animal life of rainforests. Click the PDF icon to download the issue.

Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

Fossils: Footprints Across Time

Lessons in this 1984 issue of Art to Zoo help students understand the earth’s past through the geologic record of fossils in their varied forms, from the lowly trilobite to the massive mastodon. Click the PDF icon to download the issue.

Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
1-24 of 430 Collections