Episode 56: NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

Welcome to Slow American English, the podcast for learners of American English. I’m your host, Karren Tolliver.

This is episode number 56: NOAA – The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

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Now for the podcast:


What is the weather like where you live? What is the climate like? Does your country lie on an ocean? How does your country record and measure the weather, climate and oceans? For the USA, all these things and more are studied by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Most people just call it NOAA. It is one of the most purely scientific organizations in the US government.

NOAA is part of the US Department of Commerce. There is a large administrative staff to share and coordinate information and perform other duties. Besides the staff of leaders, NOAA has six divisions, or line offices. Each line office specializes in a specific area of study. Here is a list of line offices and what they do:

  • National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service, or NESDIS, studies global environmental conditions and changes. They operate satellites that study Earth and space. They work with other environmental organizations all over the world. Their information is used for weather and climate forecasting. They make this information available to scientists worldwide.
  • National Marine Fisheries Service, or NMFS, takes care of ocean resources. They make sure we have sustainable fisheries and healthy seafood. They are in charge of protecting natural ocean ecosystems and important species such as whales, sea turtles, coral and salmon.
  • National Ocean Service, or NOS, supports coastal economies on the Atlantic, Pacific and Great Lakes. They help ship transportation by providing navigation charts and water level information. They help predict and prepare coastal communities for big events like hurricanes, flooding and oil spills. They also study and help preserve coastal areas for nature, recreation and tourism.
  • National Weather Service, or NWS, studies and analyzes climate, water and weather data. The result is more accurate weather forecasts and better protection of people, property and the economy.
  • Office of Marine & Aviation Operations, or OMAO, studies conditions and changes in the atmosphere and oceans. They operate a fleet of research and survey ships that gather data about deep oceans and shallow bays. Their airplanes fly all over the world to give us information about storms, to map coastlines, and to do other research.
  • Office of Oceanic & Atmospheric Research, or OAR, is also called NOAA Research. This line office works with other parts of NOAA to produce better forecasts, earlier warnings for storms and natural disasters, and deeper knowledge of the entire earth. With their objective data about our world, we are able to manage our environment better.

The US government had scientific research agencies long before NOAA was founded. In 1807, the US Coast and Geodetic Survey was formed to create nautical charts for ports. In 1870, the Weather Bureau was founded. One year later, the Commission of Fish and Fisheries came along. These organizations and other departments were combined into NOAA in 1970. Today, it’s one of the largest scientific research organizations in the world, and it works with many other groups worldwide to benefit people all over the world.

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That’s the podcast for this time. Slow American English is written and produced by Karren Tolliver. Copyright 2019. All rights reserved.

Subscribe to the podcast episode recordings wherever you get your podcasts.

For a free transcript and to subscribe to the podcast website, visit www.SlowAmericanEnglish.net. There you can find links to follow me on social media and to buy Slow American English workbooks on Amazon.

Theme music for this podcast is written and performed by SW Campbell and used by permission. Find more music by this artist at www.Soundclick.com/swcampbell.

This has been Slow American English. I’m Karren Tolliver. Thank you for listening.

Episode 35: The Smithsonian Institution

Welcome to Slow American English, the podcast for learners of American English. I’m your host, Karren Tolliver.

This is episode number 35: The Smithsonian Institution

In this podcast, you learn about the largest museum in the world, the Smithsonian Institution.

But, before we get started, please visit the podcast website at www.SlowAmericanEnglish.net. There you can subscribe to the podcast and get free transcripts, too.

To support this podcast, please visit patreon.com/slowamericanenglish and become a patron. Monthly contributors get access to Exercise Worksheets and Natural-Speed Recordings. You can also make a one-time contribution at www.slowamericanenglish.net.

And, as always, you can contact me directly via email at info@slowamericanenglish.net. Now for the podcast:



The Smithsonian Institution is America’s national museum, but it is so much more than that. It’s actually a museum, education and research complex, the largest in the world.

The Smithsonian had an interesting beginning. Back in the early 1800s, James Smithson bequeathed his estate to the United States. His stipulation for the bequest was that the US should found “at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge.”

The weird thing was, James Smithson was born in England and never visited America in his life! No one knows why he wanted the US to have his money to form the Smithsonian, but Congress accepted. After years of discussion and debate, the Smithsonian Institution was established in 1846 as a trust. In this case, a trust means it is run by a Board of Regents and a Secretary of the Smithsonian and paid for by the interest from Smithson’s money. We can say that Smithson’s money was the first endowment for the Smithsonian.

The first building for the Smithsonian was the “castle”, a red sandstone building that opened in 1855. At that time it was in a rather remote location, but other museums and governmental buildings grew up around it. Today, it’s a famous landmark on the National Mall, a national park that includes the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, the US Capitol and the White House.

The Smithsonian soon grew out of the castle, and today there are ten other Smithsonian museums and galleries on the National Mall. It would be absolutely impossible to see all of the Smithsonian in one visit. In addition, six more museums and the National Zoo stand in the DC area, plus two more in New York as well. Not only that, the Smithsonian works closely with 168 other museums in 39 other states, Panama and Puerto Rico.

You can imagine that the Smithsonian has millions of objects. In fact, it has been called the nation’s attic because of the huge numbers and many types of objects contained there. The artifacts are organized into museums and galleries that house specific groups of objects. For example, the Air and Space Museum has airplanes and spacecraft, such as a replica of the Wright brothers’ glider, Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis airplane, a lunar module from the moon landing, and spacesuits.

In addition to the mummies, dinosaur bones and artworks, other interesting objects in the many Smithsonian collections include:

  • George Washington’s tent

  • Ben Franklin’s cane

  • locks of hair from the first 14 US presidents

  • Lincoln’s top hat

  • Julia Child’s kitchen

  • early artificial-heart technology

  • part of Route 66

  • Indiana Jones’ fedora and bullwhip

  • Star Trek memorabilia

  • an Elvis Presley recording

  • the Hope diamond

  • and the original teddy bear named after Theodore Roosevelt

Guests can also see an IMAX theater and a planetarium on a visit to the Smithsonian. Tickets to visit the Smithsonian are always free. In addition to the original endowment by Smithson, the museum receives other government funding plus donations from private citizens.

The Smithsonian is involved with many research programs worldwide. It also produces two magazines, Smithsonian and Air and Space.There is so much more to say about the Smithsonian, but I hope this podcast has given you an idea of the immensity of the institution.


That’s the podcast for this time. Slow American English is written and produced by Karren Tolliver. Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.

For a free transcript and to subscribe to the podcast, visit www.SlowAmericanEnglish.net. You can also subscribe via iTunes, Google Play Music, and any other podcast feed reader.

Theme music for this podcast is written and performed by SW Campbell and used by permission. Find more music by this artist at www.Soundclick.com/swcampbell.

This has been Slow American English. I’m Karren Tolliver. Thank you for listening.