Planet Earth—Astronaut's-Eye-View

Science on a Sphere for Earth Day

SOS_logoCaring for the Earth takes on a whole new dimension when you can see the entire planet the way astronauts do. Thanks to NOAA's Science on a Sphere (SOS), you don't have to travel into space, just to one of 80 public SOS exhibits across the United States and in Canada, Mexico, South Korea, Taiwan, Denmark, France, St. Lucia, China, Brazil, Finland, and Singapore.

Seeming to float in space like Earth itself, Science On a Sphere creates stunning visual images from real scientific data and displays them on a six-foot-diameter globe suspended from the ceiling.


Forest in the Clouds

From grad school to middle school

Middle schoolers may have their heads in the clouds, but that's OK—if the clouds are part of the Canopy in the Clouds/Dosel en Las Nubes web-based curriculum, created by UC Berkeley graduate student Greg Goldsmith. 

Greg GoldsmithThe website helps learners experience what it's like to move through Costa Rica’s Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, where Goldsmith does his doctoral research on plants. Gorgeously green, photographic panoramas can be explored in 360 degrees as well as up and down, and are sprinkled with clickable links that open videos or text about the plants and animals inhabiting this rare forest ecosystem from canopy to floor.


Planning Summer Camps

Master teacher Meredith Cochran learns from SMILE

NCMoLS3Master teacher Meredith Cochran is busy putting final touches on plans for this summer’s camps, for 1800 learners, at the North Carolina Museum of Life + Science. She took time to share SMILE's  impact on her work as an informal educator.

How does SMILE help your summer planning?

Our weeklong camps range over a dozen different topics across multiple age groups, and leave our team with over thirty camps to develop and implement. We end up sorting through A LOT of activities! The SMILE collection comes from such a wide variety of institutions, it helped me begin to see a bigger picture of the work we are a part of in our field. The work you are doing draws us all up into a greater standard of collaboration.


Get Up and Go—to a Garden!

Dig in at National Public Gardens Day

National Public GardensHundreds of public gardens will hold special events for National Public Gardens Day, Friday, May 11. Activities for school groups, families and visitors of all ages will encourage people to discover their local public garden, and learn about its commitment to education, research and the environment. The American Public Gardens Association is a partner in the Let’s Move! Museums & Gardens initiative, and gardens are a great place to get kids moving with STEM.


Rolling, Flying, and SMILE-ing

IMLS Director blogs about Let's Move! with SMILE

2012 White House Easter Egg RollSusan Hildreth, Institute of Museum and Library Services Director, blogged about STEM fun at the 2012 White House Easter Egg Roll, and about the new Let's Move! activity search engine created by for the IMLS Let's Move! Museums and Gardens initiative. The search engine includes hundreds of SMILE activities that get learners out of their chairs and moving while they're learning about STEM.


Let's Move! with SMILE

Let's Move! Museums & Gardens adds SMILE movement activities

Let's Move! Museums & GardensThe Let's Move! national campaign and science education project have joined forces to get kids moving while they're learning about math and science. 

Hundreds of Let’s Move! activities are getting learners out of their chairs to run, jump rope, dance, climb hills, bounce balls, and more as they explore science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). A special Let’s Move! activity search engine, created by, is now a front-and-center resource of the Let’s Move! Museums & Gardens initiative, part of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign to solve the problem of childhood obesity within a generation.



Dancing Like a Scientist

If the TV hit show “Dancing with the Stars” were about real astronomical bodies, it would fit perfectly in the teaching/learning category known as STEAM. STEAM uses the arts, including performing arts like dance, to engage children in math and science in new and creative ways.

Wolf Trap InstituteTeaching Artists from the Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts go into preschool and kindergarten classrooms to teach STEM concepts and skills. One activity they use starts out getting children moving or dancing freely to music. Then the educator adds an extra dimension—asking children to try different speeds, shapes, or patterns, or to use their motions to express something from the realm of science. The educator might ask, “How would you move if you were bubbles rising to the top of a glass of liquid, or a seed pod floating on the wind?”


Ebb and Flow

4th graders name twin lunar satellites

First it was 6th grader Clara Ma who named the Mars robotic rover "Curiosity." Now an entire 4th-grade class has named NASA's new lunar satellites "Ebb" and "Flow.

Winning ClassThe class from Bozeman, Montana won a nationwide contest to name the twin spacecraft, which are part of the Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission. GRAIL will create the most accurate gravitational map of the Moon ever made, providing details about the Moon's internal structure and composition. These discoveries will expand what we know about how Earth and its rocky neighbors in the inner solar system developed into the diverse worlds we see today.


Planet Under Pressure

Science Center Events Support World Conference

Planet Under PressureWhat forces are "putting the squeeze" on Planet Earth? Science centers worldwide will help their visitors grapple with this complex question during public events connected with the international Planet under Pressure conference, March 26-29.

Check out a world map of conference-related events created in coordination with the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC). 


SMILE Boosts Science Festival Plans

Science Festival SMILE tip

MovieAdd science festival planners to the growing list of's biggest fans. In this "best tips" video for building successful festival booths, the Philadelphia Science Festival recommends for great activities and to "get your creative juice flowing." The video offers booth builders other tips too, such as: set up simple and accessible hands-on activities, involve 4-6 high energy volunteers, and go green—don't hand out too much printed material.

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