I See Wonder: Guiding Inquiry and Expanding Access

by Erin Rushing

This post was written by Victoria Cunningham, summer intern in the Smithsonian Libraries’ Education office.

This summer I had the pleasure of working on a team of interns under the direction of Education Specialist Sara Cardello to further expand the I See Wonder collection for the Smithsonian Libraries. I See Wonder is an excellent tool for teachers of all grades to help further extend students’ natural curiosity of the world. Children and teens are able to look at photographs and either verbally or in written form express what they see and then take it a step further and discuss what they wonder about the photograph. Teachers are then able to guide the students’ thinking and have them dig deeper to justify their reasoning or expand upon their wonderings. This natural way of learning helps students to develop a deeper understanding of topics through guided inquiry, versus being told exactly what they are supposed to learn.


“I See Wonder”, featuring a selection of engaging images to spark inquiry.


As an intern, I first thought of collections that would have value for teachers. Thankfully, a fellow summer intern, Louise To, was able to reach out to several teachers to gather feedback on what has been or what would be useful to see in the collection (learn more about her project on the blog). I then located photographs that related in some way to the collection and did appropriate research to give background information to the photographs. We were also able to create links for each resource that lead to sites for further information for those who would like to dive deeper into a topic.

This opportunity to work as an intern with Smithsonian Libraries has been hugely beneficial and gives me even more tools in my toolbox! I am currently working towards a Master’s in Education with a concentration in school librarianship. In the meantime, I am an enrichment teacher for grades kindergarten through fifth grade, and as ‘guided inquiry’ is a buzz phrase in the educational world today, I feel that by working on I See Wonder, I have not only gained exposure to this amazing resource, but know it on a deeper level having been able to contribute.








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