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The Smithsonian takes
to the streets in Panama

June 13, 2018


Designed to share a hands-on-science experience, the new, brightly-painted van will make it possible for kids and adults to participate in the excitement of the discovery process in cities and towns across Panama.

In a colorful bus, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute scientists and guides will now visit public schools, community organizations and fairs in Panama’s cities and rural provinces as part of the Q?Bus program, Taking Smithsonian Science to the Street. The main goal of this program is to provide informal education for children and young people who have not had the opportunity to visit our facilities and to help to ignite their curiosity and interest in science.

The name Q?Bus comes from the Q?Rius program started at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC. Q?Rius will be implemented in Panama in the future under the name of Q?Rioso Panamá in a discovery space at the Punta Culebra Natural Center on the Amador Causeway.

The Q?Bus transports all the equipment, collections other implements necessary for kids to participate in fun and interactive inquiry learning activities. All activities correspond to a discipline studied by Smithsonian researchers in Panama, such as entomology (the study of insects), hydrology (the study of water flow), archaeology (the study of historical artefacts), microbial ecology (the study of bacteria, fungi and other tiny organisms), biodiversity (the study of the variety of life forms) and physical monitoring (the study of temperature, rainfall and other environmental variables through time). The activities were developed for students from 1st to 9th grade and are aligned with the standards of Panama’s Ministry of Education (MEDUCA).

The program will run from May to November, with funding from the Smithsonian’s Youth Access Implementation Grant (YAG) program, the Fundación Smithsonian and the office of the director of the Smithsonian in Panama. For this school year (the duration of the grant), the Q?Bus program aims to provide high quality informal scientific education to 6,250 students from socioeconomically disadvantaged areas. The program has already had a warm reception and we trust that it will contribute to awakening scientific interest in Panama’s future decision-makers.

For more information about the Q?Bus program please contact: hassellk@si.edu

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