University of Minnesota
Driven to Discover

The Wonder Years:
Understanding Early Childhood Development

This project is a collaboration between the Science Museum of Minnesota (SMM), CEED, and Public Agenda, a nonpartisan civic engagement organization.

Through programs, an exhibition, and research, this project engages museum visitors, policymakers, and caregivers in deliberations around the latest, and often misunderstood, early childhood development research. It also builds on an increased understanding of the importance of early childhood development to expand civic engagement around this urgent social issue. The project creates dynamic links between current research on early childhood development and the audiences of museum visitors, policymakers, and caregivers to help them become more informed supporters of our youngest citizens.

CEED's contribution to this project is to:

  • provide up-to-date research findings about early development for exhibit development and visitor experiences,
  • assist with exhibit programming that targets policymakers, and
  • research how the exhibit and programming impact policymakers and others.

Wonder Years Exhibit at the Science Museum

The Wonder Years permanent exhibit invites you to see the world through the eyes of the child you once were. Why are experiences an important part of development? What do children learn before kindergarten? Explore how young children learn from the world around them and how scientists learn about children's development. Bring your family and friends--Wonder Years is included with museum admission.

Wonder Years Lecture Series - June 7, 2012 Lecture

The Science Museum of Minnesota conducted a lecture series associated with the Wonder Years exhibit.

Playful Learning

Playful Learning: An Evidence-based Model of Preschool Education  

Lecturer: Kathy Hirsh-Pasek

View video presentation

Presentation handout (16 pages)



Visit the Wonder Years website at the Science Museum of Minnesota.

Related Resources

University Project Staff

Amy Susman-Stillman, Principal Investigator

Senator John Hottinger, Project Consultant

Chuck Slocum, Project Consultant

Kathleen Thomas, University Faculty


National Science Foundation

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Last modified on February 21, 2013.