Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Exploring the Amazing World of Lichens

A Smithsonian Science How Live Webcast, November 14, 2019 at 11AM and 2PM EST
Two women and one man hold lichens of different colors – yellow, white, brown, and green – in  their outstretched hands.
Smithsonian Science How co-hosts Emmanuel Kyei-Baffour and Maggy Benson show off lichen samples with Lichenologist Manuela Dal Forno. Photo by Jennifer Renteria, Smithsonian.

Program Details

  • November 14, 2019
  • Shows stream at 11am and 2pm EST and are 30 minutes long
  • The program is free, but registration is requested. SIGN UP


What is a lichen? Lichenologist Manuela Dal Forno will take students on an exploration of the world of lichens, helping them to realize that lichens are living all around us — from forests to city streets. Manuela will explain what lichens are and how the lichen symbiosis works. Your class will get to see Manuela’s student interns in action, extracting DNA from lichens in one of the Smithsonian’s labs. Throughout the broadcast, Manuela 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 November 14, 2019, at 11am and then again at 2pm EST.
  • During the live show, your students will be interacting with the scientist through a chat window on this page.
  • See 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.
  • Still have questions? Want to see your students featured on Science How? Email us at

Teaching Resources

Use these resources to support pre/post activities:

Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

Life Science

3rd Grade

  • 3-LS2-1: Construct an argument that some animals form groups that help members survive.
  • 3-LS3-1: Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence that plants and animals have traits inherited from parents and variation of these traits exists in a group of similar organisms.
  • 3-LS3-2: Use evidence to support the explanation that traits can be influenced by the environment.
  • 3-LS4-3: Construct an argument with evidence that in a particular habitat some organisms can survive well, some survive less well, and some cannot survive at all.

4th Grade

  • 4-LS1-1: Construct an argument that plants and animals have internal and external structures that function to support survival, growth, behavior, and reproduction.

5th Grade

  • 5-LS1-1: Support an argument that plants get the materials they need for growth chiefly from air and water.
  • 5-LS2-1: Develop a model to describe the movement of matter among plants, animals, decomposers, and the environment.

6-8th Grade

  • MS-LS1-6: Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for the role of photosynthesis in the cycling of matter and flow of energy into and out of organisms.
  • MS-LS1-5: Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for how environmental and genetic factors influence the growth of organisms.
  • MS-LS2-4: Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations.
Resource Type
Videos and Webcasts
Grade Level
3-5, 6-8
Learning Standards
Next Generation Science Standards
Life Science