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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
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Child at a discovery cart

At a Glance

  • Located in Museum Exhibits
  • Reservations not Required

Formerly known as "Discover Stations," Q? Carts are mobile carts positioned in selected exhibits, where groups of eight to twelve students come face-to-face with object-based, problem-solving opportunities and experiences.

Museum educators and volunteers use objects from the Museum’s collections - animal coverings, bones, fossils, minerals, rocks, teeth, and cultural artifacts - to introduce simple observational skills and interpretive techniques that scientists use to gather and weigh evidence and draw conclusions. Activities focus on concepts and topics presented in nearby exhibits and take about five minutes to complete.

Q? Cart programs do not require reservations. Please note that Q? Carts are not always available and the schedule is subject to change withot notice. Please check with the Information Desks for the most up-to-date schedule.

Station activities schedule



Exhibition / Floor

July 28, Wednesday 10-12 Dinosaur Hall Activity / 1st
  10-7 Human Genome Exhibit / 2nd
  10-1 Human Origins Hall / 1st
  10:30 Museum Highlights Tour / Meet in Rotunda, 1st
August 1, Thursday 10-7 Human Genome Exhibit / 2nd
  1-4 Human Origins Hall / 1st
  10:30, 1:30 Museum Highlights Tour / Meet in Rotunda, 1st
August 2, Friday 3-5 Dinosaur Hall Activity / 1st
  10-7 Human Genome Exhibit / 2nd
  1:30 Museum Highlights Tour / 1st, Meet in Rotunda
August 3, Saturday 10-7 Human Genome Exhibit / 2nd
  1-4 Human Origins Hall / 1st


First Floor Exhibitions and Activities

African Voices

  • African Minerals - Carefully examine and compare bauxite, native gold, halite (salt) and other minerals to learn how they are important to economies and trade in Africa.
  • Communicating Ideas - Explore some of the many ways that African communities share information and express ideas, from traditional languages, textiles, percussion musical instruments, and objects of prestige to the use of modern technology.


  • Dinosaur Detective - Examine the fossil clues paleontologists use to determine what dinosaurs ate, how they gave birth, and what their skin looked like.
  • The Tooth Factory- Compare and contrast the teeth of ancient and modern sharks.
  • What is a Dinosaur? - Sort and classify scale models of prehistoric reptiles to discover several characteristics that distinguish dinosaurs from other ancient reptiles.
  • What is a Fossil? - Sort a small collection of real fossils into plant and animal fossils, while learning what fossils are, how they form, and the clues they provide about life in prehistoric times.

Mammal Hall

  • I've Got You Under My Skin - Find out how taxidermists, biologists, and exhibit designers prepare mammal specimens for exhibit, while discovering what you can learn about a mammal from its eyes, ears, and nose.
  • Mammal Adaptations - Compare and contrast real mammal furs, as well as models of mammal bodies, noses, and eyes, to understand how mammals are adapted to different environments.

Sant Ocean Hall

  • Ocean Connections - Learn some of the threats to the long-term health of the Ocean and find out what you can do to minimize them.

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Second Floor Exhibitions and Activities


  • Human Origins - Use real skulls and casts of skulls to explore the relationship between humans and non-human primates and other mammals and trace the development of Homo sapiens sapiens both physically and behaviorally.
  • Is that a Tool? - Compare tools from several archeological sites with modern tools to determine how these objects were made and used by prehistoric people.

Geology, Gems & Minerals

  • Minerals Matter - Test the physical properties of various minerals and match each to an everyday object or product in which it is an ingredient.

Korea Gallery

  • Korean Daily Life - Examine traditional and modern artifacts used for food preparation, education, and dress.
  • Korean Festivals - Learn about traditions and the meaning of symbols related to the 100-day anniversary of the birth of a child, weddings, New Year festivals and Chusok (a thanksgiving festival).

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