Partner Feature – National Museum of American History

October 12, 2016

Center for Inspired Teaching is delighted to feature the National Museum of American History, an internship site for our Real World History program. Public and public charter high school students enrolled in Real World History build their skills as historians through this model, competency-based course that combines classes with internship experiences at historic sites and museums across Washington, DC.

The National Museum of American History has hosted several Real World History students as interns. Students have conducted research, explored the archives, and even designed and directed teenage-friendly tours of the museum. This spring, students will help with the design and implementation of the National Youth Summit, which brings middle and high school students together with scholars, teachers, policy experts and activists in a national conversation about important events in America’s past that have relevance to the nation’s present and future.

Naomi Coquillon, Manager of Youth and Teacher Programs at the National Museum of American History, says: “The approach of Real World History, to teach students the skills of historians and to provide them opportunities to practice the work of history, dovetails with our emphasis on ‘doing history’ and teaching history as inquiry-based and active. It is a natural partnership; we are pleased to deepen our relationship this year and provide the students with greater access to the museum’s staff and collections.”


Max Matthews, a junior at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School, leads fellow Real World History students and Smithsonian employees on a tour of the museum.

The goal of the National Museum of American History is to help people understand the past in order to make sense of the present and shape a more humane future. “Social studies as a subject,” Naomi elaborates, “helps students understand how people interact with each other and the world… in the past, today, and in the future.” We share in the Smithsonian’s efforts to provide learning opportunities that connect academic subjects like history to the issues of the present and to the reality of students’ lives.

The Museum’s Education and Outreach team sees the study of American history as an active pursuit that should engage students. Like Inspired Teaching, they’re focused on ensuring that every student has an education that empowers him or her to thrive and contribute to our world. Naomi explains, “When students and teachers ‘do history’ together they practice the type of critical thinking, problem solving, and communication and collaboration skills that prepare them to be active, informed citizens, equipped to help shape a more humane future.”

Learn more about the National Museum of American History on their website. To access their educational resources, visit the Smithsonian’s History Explorer website. On our website, you can learn more about Real World History and view some of the projects students developed in concert with their internships.

[showmodule id="1045"] [showmodule id="140"] [showmodule id="141"]