Q&A with Carrie Heflin, Early Education Specialist at the Smithsonian®
Last month we shared how we’re bringing museum learning into our classrooms through a collaboration with the Smithsonian! To learn a little bit more about the museum and the people that help bring Discoveries to life in our centers, we sat down with Carrie Heflin, Early Education Specialist at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. She’s dishing all about her career journey, her current role, and one surprising thing the public might not realize about museum life!
How did you begin your career with the Smithsonian?
I started my career about ten years ago working as a teacher at the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center (SEEC). SEEC uses an emergent, museum-based curriculum to encourage children to wonder about and explore the world around them. In this role, I learned how to work with young children in museums and I grew to know and appreciate the depth and diversity of the Smithsonian’s collections.
What is your current role at the Smithsonian?
I am the Early Education Specialist at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. That means I design and run the museum’s programs for children ages 0-6 and all of the wonderful adults in their lives. Some of our signature programs for this age group include Wegmans Wonderplace, our play-based exhibit for young children, and Historytime which is an object-based video series geared toward this age group. I am a firm believer in the importance of learning about history throughout your life, so working in a museum where I get to share that content with our littlest historians and help shape their knowledge base from day one is a privilege and a joy.
What is something people might not know about museum life?
We have to be really careful with our snacks! Even tiny crumbs or drips from a drink can attract pests like mice and bugs or cause mildew and mold to form, all of which can damage our precious objects. When we’re at work, we are careful not to eat in the exhibits or storage areas and we have to clean up after ourselves. If you want to enjoy a tasty snack in a museum, look for designated eating areas like cafes to help us protect our collections.
A big “thank you” to Carrie for sharing her story and insight into museum life!