Virtual Education Programs

Visit the Museum without leaving your site through interactive distance learning. Delivered using videoconferencing technology, students from kindergarten through high school can enjoy a variety of interactive programs designed to cover core curriculum requirements. Programs are free with the exception of the return shipping on teaching materials used in the class (if applicable). Out-of-state schools pay a $65 fee per program plus return shipping charges on materials.

Registration: Participants must have some form of videoconferencing equipment or software to participate. A test with your site is required prior to scheduling. Programs must be scheduled six weeks in advance.

Virtual Classes

Grades K–5
Virtual Classes are hands-on, inquiry-based learning sessions for elementary students. Students work in groups with Museum specimens sent to your site prior to program. Programs are 50 minutes long and correlate to the North Carolina Science Essential Standards. Minimum of 8 students; Maximum of 30. For more information contact Kaytee Smith, coordinator of virtual education, at 919.707.9899 or

Animal Clues

Grades K–2
Students will be nature detectives by investigating clues left by wildlife. Learn how to identify tracks, scat and other animal signs and determine what the animals were doing using the skills of observation.

Butterfly Basics

Grades 1–3
Explore what butterflies are, what they look like, what they eat and why they are important to us. Students will become butterfly scientists and learn about the body parts and life cycle of butterflies.

Coastal Carolina

Grades 4–5
Form meets function as students investigate how our coastal animals adapt and interact with their marine environment. Using specimens and replicas, students will learn about the main habitats of the coastal marine environment.

Discovering Dinosaurs

Grades K – 5
What is a fossil? How do we use fossils to develop an understanding of what life was like millions of years ago? What other animals lived long ago? Students will learn how to interpret fossils and what they teach us about the lives of dinosaurs.

Virtual Labs

Grades 8-12
A Museum educator will guide your class through a lab based program. Lab materials will be mailed to your site prior to the program. Program length is 60 minutes. Minimum of 8 students; Maximum of 30. For more information contact Tamara Poles, coordinator of virtual education, at 919.707.9277 or

Jurassic Pork! Dinosaurs: The Other White Meat

What did the T. rex taste like? In this program, students will learn how to extract DNA, analyze DNA results, and compare structures to determine the T. rex’s closest relative.

Virtual Science Sessions

(Informal Learning Centers)

Connect your group live with a Museum educator or scientist. These sessions are designed to meet the needs of informal learning centers such as public libraries, after school programs, and hospitals. Program topics vary seasonally and can be customized based on staff availability.

Session lasts 30 minutes. For more information contact Kaytee Smith, coordinator of virtual education – elementary specialist, at 919.707.9899 or

SMARTS Program

Grades 3-12

(Scientists Making Answers Relevant for Teachers and Students.)

The SMARTS program allows students to interact with a scientist and learn about their exciting research. The programs are 30–45 minutes long and are offered on specified days, between 8:30 and 10:30am. For more information contact Tamara Poles, coordinator of virtual education, at 919.707.9277 or

Armpit and Belly Button Biodiversity

Grades 3–8
Learn about research on the “wildlife” living on our bodies. Swab a teacher’s or principal’s armpit and belly button and see what is living inside! Send us the swabs and we will culture them prior to the program so students can learn about the microbial critters that call our bodies “home.”

Dirt is Alive

Grades 3–8
Did you know the dirt in your schoolyard is alive? Send us a sample of dirt from your school and we will tell you what’s living in it and how organisms such as people depend on soils for survival.

Adventures in Field Biology

Grades 8–12
Dr. Roland Kays is one of the world’s leading experts on kinkajous. How did he go from being a rugrat exploring the outdoors to a scientist climbing trees in the rainforest? What is he discovering about kinkajous?

Dirt is Alive! — Exploring Dirt with DNA & RNA Sequencing

Grades 9–10
Did you know that the dirt in your schoolyard is alive? Send us a sample of dirt from your school and we will tell you what’s living in it and how organisms such as people depend on soil for survival. Students will also learn how scientists traditionally studied these microbes by culturing, but also, how and why they are currently using DNA and RNA sequencing to explore the diversity of environmental microbes.

Explore Armpit and Belly Button Microbes with DNA Sequencing

Grades 9-10
Learn how scientists use DNA sequencing to identify the “wildlife” living on our bodies. Swab your teacher’s or principal’s armpit and/or belly button and we will grow the bacteria in the lab so students can see the microbial critters that call our bodies “home.” Students will learn how and why DNA sequencing is used for explorations of bacterial diversity.

Glaxo Smith Kline logo

SMARTS Program sponsored by Glaxo Smith Kline

Smithsonian Science How?

We've partnered with the National Museum of Natural History to present Smithsonian Science How?, a series of free, interactive, 25-minute live webcasts with Museum scientists, followed by  webcasts featuring scientists from the Smithsonian. The webcasts provide students with positive STEM role models and information about science careers and pathways. Students and teachers can pose their own questions to our scientists, forging personal connections to current research.

Smithsonian Science How? Topics Live from the NC Museum of Natural Sciences

March 13, 10:15am:  “Arthropod Adaptations” featuring Bill Reynolds, curator, coordinator, & containment director of the Arthropod Zoo, followed by “Inside the Insect Zoo” featuring Dan Babbitt, manager of the O. Orkin Insect Zoo and Butterfly Pavilion at the National Museum of Natural History. 

March 27, 10:15 am:  “How to eat like a Lemur!” featuring Chris Smith, education specialist at the Duke Lemur Center. The Smithsonian’s Briana Pobiner will follow with “Early Human Diets.” 

April 10, 10:15 am:  “Exoskeletons in our Closets!” featuring Michelle Trautwein, assistant director of the Biodiversity Laboratory, Nature Research Center, followed by “Life in One Cubic Foot” with Chris Meyer, research zoologist with the National Museum of Natural History.

To view our programs visit

After the Museum’s scientists give their presentations, the program continues at 11am with the Smithsonian’s webcast at This presentation will follow the same format as the Museum’s. Presentations from the Smithsonian are available to live stream into classrooms through May 2014; the full schedule and webcast archives are available at the above link.

For more information please visit or contact Tamara Poles,, 919.707.9277.