Inspiring Curiosity and Wonder with the Smithsonian

7:00 PM EDT
8:00 PM EDT

Professional Development Webinars


Curiosity and wonder are at the heart of the desire to learn and the development of a love of learning that can last a lifetime. But what do curiosity and wonder look like in our classrooms? How can you drive learning through curiosity for preschoolers? What about infants and toddlers?

The Smithsonian Institution has so many resources for teachers to use to help to foster curiosity and wonder. This session will introduce you to some of our favorite strategies and ideas to help you foster curiosity and wonder in your classroom and help students Get a Head Start with the Smithsonian.

This interactive session will include discussion and opportunities to practice with hands-on components, so bring your sense of fun and excitement to engage with the instructors and other participants in the class.

In this session, you will:

  • Explore why curiosity and wonder are at the core of learning in early childhood.
  • Learn about ways to make your classroom environment a playground for curious minds.
  • Discover a world of amazing resources from the Smithsonian Institution to inspire young learners.
  • Gain skills and tools to help you meet key ELOF “Approaches to Learning” goals.


Ann Caspari is an Early Childhood Education Specialist at the National Air and Space Museum. With over 30 years of experience connecting young children to museum objects and content, Ann works to develop NASM’s learning experiences for young children and their caregivers in both locations (DC and Virginia) as well as the virtual environment. She designs and leads professional development in teaching inquiry science for early childhood teachers in the District of Columbia Public Schools and other early childhood teachers across the United States. As a founding member of the Smithsonian Early Learning Collaborative, Ann has championed early learners at the Smithsonian since 2008. Ann holds a BA in Religion and Cultural Anthropology from Trinity College (Hartford, CT) and MAT in Museum Education from The George Washington University.  Before joining NASM, Ann worked as Manager of Museum Programs for the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center where she gave professional development seminars on museums and young children. Ann also worked with audiences that included young children at the National Building Museum and the Calvert Marine Museum in Maryland. Ann co-authored, with Carol Kuhlthau and Leslie Maniotes, Guided Inquiry: Learning in the Twenty-first Century and Guided Inquiry Design: A Framework for Inquiry in Your School.


Julia Smith is a Museum and Early Learning Specialist at the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center’s (SEEC) Office of Engagement. In this position she offers curricular support to classroom educators working with children birth through kindergarten. She aids in developing lessons grounded in play and utilizing the surrounding museums and community. Additionally, Julia brings SEEC’s expertise in museum-based education for young children out to the world through professional development for educators, public programs, and partnerships with other educational institutions. Julia began her role at SEEC as a toddler educator. She is committed to advocating for the inclusion of all young children, particularly those 0-3 years, in educational spaces.



ModeratorRachel Hutchison, Manager of Online Instructional Design

Rachel Hutchison is the Manager of Online Instructional Design at the National Head Start Association (NHSA). In this role she oversees the design and management of 100+ online courses for the Academy at NHSA. In 2021, Hutchison launched NHSA in the Classroom, an initiative that aims to increase access to world-class arts and educational resources through virtual programming. Rachel earned her bachelors in writing and communication at Concordia College in Moorhead, MN and her masters in creative writing at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA. Rachel grew up in Havre, Montana and enjoys puppetry, music, and hiking