Wednesday Roundup: Anthems, Feathers and Pheon

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Feather Forensics—Featured right now on the Smithsonian Science homepage is a video about identifying dead birds who have mostly been struck by airplanes, such as the Canada geese that brought a US Airways plane down into the Hudson River. The video is an interview with forensic ornithologist Carla Dove (no, that's not her stage name), who talks about how she and her team can determine bird species just by closely examining their feathers.

Anthem Newsflash—The American History Museum's Star-Spangled Banner exhibit is home to the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write a poem that would become the lyrics to the national anthem. So the question is, did Key intend for his poem to be a song when he wrote it in 1814?  "Oh Say Can You See" reports that the historians at American History believe Key's intention was to write a composition to be set to a melody.

Pheon Now Online—A few weeks ago, I reported on the launch of Pheon, the new alternate reality game at American Art. While we were all off on our holiday weekend, the museum launched the online version of Pheon, which can be played from the comfort of your own computer. The game currently has 21 beginner missions, seven of which are directly related to artworks in the museum's collections. Don't get too comfortable behind that screen, though, because most missions send you out into the real world. Go straight to the game's Facebook app to get started (you must have a Facebook account to play).

Make Your Own Sketchbook—Featured this week on Eye Level are a few tips for making your own sketchbook, as offered by Katherine Rand, who taught the Luce Center of American Art's latest drawing workshop. The Luce Center offers an ongoing drawing program, called Draw and Discover, where anyone from the public can come and not only practice their drawing skills but also learn nifty tidbits about sketchbooks, like what to use to bind your own book and what kind of paper holds up best.

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