- - Thursday, June 28, 2012

Pick of the Pack

For children: Trader Center launch

Between ant farms and dinosaur models, nerdy children tend to develop an affinity for rocks. It starts with unpolished quartz, which turns up in driveways and playgrounds and out in the woods. Then it’s on to agates, a type of volcanic rock that is polished and rounded and often falsely labeled as onyx, and then cracked geodes, and finally — for the bold — uncracked geodes, which are a blast. He or she may learn to organize his or her collection based on whether a rock is igneous, sedimentary or metamorphic; or alphabetically, placing Nepheline syenite next to Nephelinite, Pegmatite by Peridotite. If this all sounds like it’ll make a dent in your wallet, it can, but it doesn’t have to. The National Children’s Museum is launching its Trader Center this weekend, where your child can bring the rocks he or she has discovered, and trade them for better rocks. They also can learn about bartering, which is another lesson that may very well save parents a fortune.

Saturday at the National Children’s Museum, 112 Waterfront St., Oxon Hill, Md.

Phone: 301/686-0225

Web: www.ncm.museum

Concerts: Smithsonian Folklife Festival

The big hook for this year’s Smithsonian Folklife Festival was George Clinton, funk’s great uncle. If you weren’t lucky enough to catch that show, which featured funk demigods Meshell Ndegeocello, Ivan Neville and Dumpstaphunk, don’t despair. Good shows worth seeing are still available at this year’s festival. On Friday, you can watch the Ebony Hillbillies, an all-black bluegrass group representing the sounds of the Virginia Piedmont. For more international flavors, there’s Imamyar Hasanov and Pezhham Akhavass, two Azerbaijani musicians, who will bring the sounds of the Caspian Sea to the District on Thursday.

Through July 7 on the National Mall between the Smithsonian Museums

Phone: 202/633-1000

Web: www.festival.si.edu

Tour: History on Foot with James McDevitt

Modern policing — from equipment to tactics — essentially has made political assassination a thing of the past. In 1865, however, there were no crime-scene investigators, a la “CSI”; no wiretapping; no credit card or rental car records. Finding out who killed President Abraham Lincoln was incredibly complicated. Even tougher? Busting open the conspiracy behind the assassination. “Investigation: Detective McDevitt,” written by Richard Hellesen, is a 19th-century police procedural that attempts to retell the investigation of Lincoln’s murder to an audience used to having complicated crimes solved in 45 minutes or less. This mystery takes slightly longer to solve — roughly two hours — and involves getting up off the couch and walking roughly 1.4 miles.

Through October at Ford’s Theatre, 511 10th St. NW

Phone: 202/347-4833

Web: www.fords.org

Theater: Source Festival

The Source Festival is the best place to see theater you won’t see anywhere else. A few years back, the festival hosted “Naked Women Sword Fighting,” which was exactly what it sounds like. That wasn’t the only play, mind you, but it is indicative of the boundary-busting nature of the festival. This year, you can watch Artistic Blind Dates (in which artists collaborate with strangers, who also happen to be artists); 10-minute plays (these often see one theme hammered hard, such as divorce in “Collateral Damage”); full-length works; and a talent show with a $100 grand prize. All the material is new, and very little of it is conventional.

Through Sunday at Source Theatre, 1835 14th St. NW

Phone: 202/204-7800

Web: www.sourcefestival.org

Fireworks: A Capitol Fourth

It is normally this Get Out author’s opinion that watching the fireworks on the National Mall ranks somewhere between suffering the brunch crowd in Georgetown and waiting in line at the DMV. But then, like those two experiences, it’s also a rite of passage for D.C. denizens. The truth is, if you haven’t suffered the sweating masses on the Mall at least once, you really should. The fireworks are some of the best in the country, and are about the only time when watching D.C. literally blow up tens of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money is mildly enjoyable. Music from the National Symphony Orchestra fleshes out the light show.

Wednesday on the National Mall

Web: www.kennedy-center.org