Tag Archives: Things to to with Kids in DC

Get Q?rius at the Natural History Museum

So much to discover at Q?rius

So much to discover at Q?rius

As if the National Museum of Natural History wasn’t fascinating enough for kids (and adults) already, a new addition to its amazing spectrum of offerings brings a whole new level of intrigue and exploration.

Q?rius is an interactive and experimental learning space that just opened in December. I’d heard about, but because it was promoted as a place for teens, the kids (ages 5 and almost 8) and I took our time getting over there to check it out. But if I’d had known just how awesome it was — and just how much younger children would think so, too — we’d have gone much sooner.


Q?rius is like lab for visitors, letting young guests feel like real scientists. They can view up close – and in many cases handle – artifacts and specimens from the museum’s collections as they “make sense of the connections between nature, the planet, the universe, and their lives.”


Guess the insect scent!

Guess the insect scent!

Microscopes offer a detailed look at different materials from the natural world. There’s a station that has you guess the scents of various insects and another that lets you listen to their sounds. You can test your knowledge of the exhibits on computers and keep track of your progress with “passports” provided by the museum.



But the area that kept the kids busiest was the “Collections Zone.” The first thing you notice are all kinds of specimens — everything from insects to birds to marine life to fossils — on display both behind glass and right on the counter tops for touching. However, it’s the drawers below them that are the big, well, draw. Full of everything from animals species to cultural relics, many of the objects cataloged in them are accessible for examination. On top of that, there is a special process for handling them that further adds to the lab-like experience.


Real (but not alive) animals are part of the collection

Real (but not alive) animals are part of the collection

Happy to discover where the dolls live

Happy to discover where the dolls live

It works like this: Each object is packaged in a box with a clear, plastic lid, so you can see it. They are all tagged with a green, yellow, or red label. Green means you can take out the item from both the drawer and the box for a full examination. Yellow means you need to ask a volunteer for help with the item. Red means you can look, but not touch, not even with the help of a volunteer. Every tag has a QR code that can be scanned at any of the computers for details and general background information about the object — it will all appear in a window on the screen. Every object is cataloged with a number that correlates to a drawer, and a space in the drawer, so you know exactly where it goes. In some, outlines of the boxes even help you fit them in correctly.



She could have examined her fingers for hours

She could have examined her fingers for hours

The process itself is very appealing for all ages. The kids really liked mastering the steps and feeling like they could navigate the lab on their own. And I personally found the precise organization of it all extremely satisfying, kind of an OCD soother (if only someone could come set up my house like that!).


There’s even more beyond — and above — that area. A room with glass walls houses a geology area where you can view demos of how rock formations evolve over millions of years and other interesting exhibits about earth science. Upstairs, overlooking the space below, is a loft with seating, tables, and thick columns that you can write and draw on with dry erase markers.


Finally, I have to mention the volunteers. You can’t miss them all around the exhibit wearing beige vests, greeting guests, answering questions, demonstrating how to use the interactives and investigate the collections. All friendly and extremely helpful.

Something to note are the hours: Q?rius is only open 2-5pm on weekdays, but 10am – 5pm on weekends. It’s located on the first floor of the museum, just past the Constitution Ave entrance to the right. We went for an after school outing, and on a weekend to explore even more — all within a span of three days.

And while it’s promoted as a place for teens and tweens, younger children definitely can enjoy it, too. Owen, Sasha, and their friends are proof of that. But if it turns out your kids aren’t quite into it, there’s always the rest of the Natural History Museum.

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Filed under DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Gradeschoolers, Museums, Nature, Ongoing, Preteens, Teens, Weekdays, Weekend

A Behind-the-Scenes Tour of Nationals Park

Put me in, Coach!

True story: Every single Nats game I’ve been to since last season, they’ve lost. And I caught quite a few of them last year — during that amazing season! — and have been to three so far this time ’round. Not a single win. I’m seriously starting to think it’s me.

So, it was actually kind of a relief to be at the ballpark yesterday, when there was no game going on, hence no chance of jinxing it. Good friends of ours won a behind-the-scenes tour of the stadium for 25 people in a raffle, and we were among the lucky crew who were invited to join them (thanks, Elsa & Sam!).

Kids are psyched the big tour

View from the Red Porch

What a treat it was for all of us. We got to visit parts of the park that either aren’t open to the public or that I’ll probably never make it to (unless anyone out there with connections wants to hook me up with sweet seats 😉 ). Our tour guide also pointed out neat features of the park that I might not have noticed on my own and gave us some history of DC’s baseball teams and former stadiums.

View from the sweet suite seats

In the press box

Hanging out in the visiting team’s clubhouse

We got to see the Diamond Club, President’s Club, a luxury suite, and the press box, and take in the sweeping views from all of them. We saw the opposing team clubhouse and Shirley Povich media center. And throughout most of it, we saw many great photos — shots of old timers, presidents throwing first pitches, and more momentous images. Artifacts from years’ past, like President Kennedy’s seat from RFK Stadium and the chairs that were hit by some of the longest home runs, were on display in the club rooms.

Pointing out the presidents

JFK’s seat from RFK stadium

Players see this quote as they head through the tunnel to the dugout

And one of the most exciting parts, especially for the kids, was saved for last: We got to go down to the field. Not on the grass, but on the track just around it. We sat in the dugouts and hung out in the Nationals bullpen, where all of the kids got a turn throwing a pitch. Pretty awesome, and the perfect way to end our tour.

She’s got Natitude

Look at that arm!

Pretend play at its best

Headed for home

I was thinking how much my dad would like the venture and asked how I might arrange a visit next time he’s in town. It turns out these tours are actually available to the public on most non game days throughout the season and a bit beyond. Who knew?! Times vary by day, so check the calendar for the schedule on the day you hope to go. You can also go on game days, though the tour is limited; there’s no on-field stop and no pitching in the Bull Pen. Tickets for all tours are $15/adults, $12/children, military, and seniors.

Now, just cross fingers for the May 10th game! I’ve already got my tickets, determined to end the unlucky streak.

The Bryce Harper fan club

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Filed under All ages, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Outdoor, Seasonal, Sports, Spring, Summer, Weekdays, Weekend