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  Geotimes Videocast - Dig It! The Smithsonian Soils Exhibit
Geotimes Videocast Monday, July 21, 2008

Dig It! The New Smithsonian Soils Exhibit

A handful of dirt may not be as glamorous as the Hope Diamond or as impressive as a T-rex skull, but the folks at the Smithsonian Institution hope that a new soils exhibit will help you appreciate just how vital this substance is when it comes to sustaining life.

On July 19th, the National Museum for Natural History opened an exhibit called "Dig It" that aims to change the way you think about what's below your feet.

The new exhibit, which will run through January 2010 and then go on the road, explains how soils form, introduces visitors to some of soils' inhabitants, and explores the vital role soils play in nutrient recycling, climate change and much more.

The gem of the exhibit is a 10-minute CSI-inspired film in which soil science detectives solve a gruesome pumpkin murder and the audience learns that soils are nature's ultimate recyclers. The exhibit also boasts 54 soil profiles, called monoliths — one from all fifty states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Guam.

The text on the display boards scattered throughout the exhibit is detailed enough to interest even the most science-minded adults. For example, visitors will learn how soil breathes and what causes toxic soils to form. While the hard science may overwhelm kids, the videos and hands-on models are sure to captivate visitors of any age.

Cassandra Willyard

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