Q&A with Carrie Heflin, Smithsonian® Early Education Specialist

Last month I shared how we bring museum learning into our classrooms through the Smithsonian collaboration! To learn a little more about the museum and the people who have helped bring Discoveries to life at our centers, we sat down with Carrie Heflin, Early Education Specialist at Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. He tells all about his career journey, his role today, and a shocking thing that the public doesn’t know about museum life!

How did you start your career at the Smithsonian?

I began my career about ten years ago working as a teacher at the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center (SEEC). SEEC uses an emergency, museum-based curriculum to encourage children to think about and explore the world around them. In this role, I learned how to work with young children in museums and I came to know and admire 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 museum programs for kids ages 0-6 and all the wonderful adults in their lives. Some of our signature programs for this age group include Wegmans Wonderplace, our play-based exhibit for children, and Time in history which is a video series based on something aimed at this age group. I am a strong believer in the importance of learning about history throughout your life, so working in a museum where I will share that content with our youngest historians and help shape their knowledge from the first day was a privilege and a joy.

What do people not know about museum life?

We have to be really careful with our snacks! Even small crumbs or droplets from a drink can attract pests such as rats and insects or cause the formation of mold and mildew, all of which can damage our valuables. If we were at work, we would be careful not to eat at the exhibits or warehouse and we would have to clean up after ourselves. If you want to enjoy a delicious snack at a museum, look for designated eating places like cafes to help us preserve our collections.

A big “thank you” to Carrie for sharing her story and insight into museum life!

Visit our website to learn more about our collaboration at the Smithsonian, or find a child care center near you.

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