Smithsonian-DCPS Cornerstones Programs


Learn with Smithsonian DC is a first of its kind strategic initiative designed to cultivate a holistic approach to serving pre-K through grade 12 students, educators, and families in our local DC Metro communities. Our first institutional partner is DC Public Schools (DCPS). Working in direct support of the school system’s goals, Smithsonian educators provide students with real-world, hands-on programs in our museums, curriculum-connected activities and online resources for use in classrooms, and professional development for educators. The goal of this initiative is to create rich and equitable learning opportunities for all pre-K-12 Metro DC students, starting exclusively with DC Public Schools.

The Cornerstones opportunities below are offered completely free of charge, with bus transportation included as applicable. Teachers may register for these programs up to 14 days in advance of the desired program date and will be assigned on a rolling basis. Because of this abbreviated timeline, we ask that teachers seek approval from their administration for these experiences before completing a registration form.

Once registered, teachers can expect a confirmation email from the DC Collaborative by the end of the next business day. Teachers will also receive a one-week reminder email before their scheduled program with logistical information including their transportation details as applicable. Teachers should respond to all communication within 48 hours of receipt. 

Smithsonian National Zoo
Conservation (Kindergarten Cornerstone)
Program Dates:
2/24/2020, 2/25/2020, 2/26/2020, 3/02/2020, 3/03/2020, 3/04/2020, 3/09/2020, 3/10/2020, 3/11/2020, 3/16/2020, 3/17/2020, 3/18/2020, 3/23/2020, 3/24/2020, 3/25/2020, 3/30/2020, 3/31/2020, 4/1/2020
Program Description: Bring your Cornerstone unit to life at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo! Kindergarten classes will visit the Amazonia rainforest exhibit to learn more about animal conservation. Animal-themed activities, story time, and a tour of the exhibit will engage students in learning about rainforest animals and this very special habitat. This 45-minute program will run twice a day, with a maximum of 40 children per program. This program is designed to complement the Conservation Cornerstone focusing on “The Great Kapok Tree” by Lynne Cherry, but is open to all kindergarten classes.
Grade Level: K
Program Start Time: 10:15 AM and 11:15 AM
Program End Time: 11:00 AM and 12:00 PM
Group Size per Date/Time: 40
Venue/Location: Smithsonian National Zoo, 3001 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington DC 20008


National Museum of Natural History
Rock On! (4th Grade Cornerstone)
Program Dates:
3/4/2020, 3/5/2020, 3/11/2020, 3/12/2020, 3/18/2020, 3/19/2020, 3/25/2020, 3/26/2020, 4/1/2020, 4/2/2020, 4/6/2020, 4/8/2020, 4/9/2020, 4/15/2020, 4/16/2020, 4/22/2020, 4/23/2020, 4/29/2020, 4/30/2020, 5/4/2020, 5/6/2020, 5/13/2020
Program Description: Explore how geologists study and classify minerals through this staff-led program and self-guided exploration at the National Museum of Natural History. At the museums, students will participate in an educator-led program focused on the tests mineralogists conduct to identify minerals, explore the Hall of Geology, Gems, and Minerals, and investigate their own rock or mineral specimen in the Q?rius Collections Zone.
Grade Level: 4th
Program Start Time: 10:00AM
Program End Time: 12:30PM
Group Size per Date/Time: 60
Venue/Location: National Museum of Natural History, 10th St. & Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20560


National Air and Space Museum
Earth Science (6th Grade Cornerstone)
Program Dates:
Program Description: Depending on your selected date, the following Cornerstones topics are available: 
Quarter 2: Weathering and Erosion (1/2-24/2020)
Hands-on activities that demonstrate how our understanding of weathering and erosion on Earth has shaped our understanding of the surface of Mars and its history. (NGSS: MS-ESS2-1, MS-ESS2-2, MS-ESS3-2, MS-ETS1-1, MS-ETS1-2)
Quarter 3: Weather and the Water Cycle (1/29-4/8/2020)
Hands-on activities that demonstrate how the water cycle drives our weather and how we apply this knowledge to develop weather forecast and how forecast impact aviation. (NGSS: MS-ESS2-1, MS-ESS2-2, MS-ESS3-2, MS-ESS2-4, MS-ESS2-5)
Quarter 4: Rover Engineering Design (4/9-6/18/2020)
Learn how we are using our knowledge of Earth’s Structure and Environment to design exploration vehicles to better understand Mars and its history. (MS-ESS3-1, MS-ESS3-3, MS-ESS3-4, MS-ESS3-5, MS-EST1-3, MS-EST1-4)
Grade Level: 6th
Program Start Time: 10:15 AM
Program End Time: 1:30 PM
Group Size per Date/Time: 80
Venue/Location: National Air and Space Museum, 600 Independence Ave. SW, Washington, DC 20560


National Museum of American History
John Brown: The Triumphant Failure (8th Grade Cornerstone)
Protest and Patriotism Cornerstones Showcase
Program Date:
Program Description: Make the National Museum of American History your stage for your Protest and Patriotism Cornerstones Showcase. Your students will have the opportunity to perform their original narratives in front of visitors on one of the museum’s stages for an authentic learning experience. While visiting NMAH, students and their guests will also be able to experience theatrical performances that will immerse them in the tactics of the sit-in movement by the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and enable them to evaluate John Brown’s legacy in the aftermath of his raid on Harper’s Ferry. The Cornerstones program is open to 80 students and two guests each. All participants will be invited to a light reception and student performers will receive a commemorative token. We look forward to seeing you in May.
Grade Level: 8th
Program Start Time: 1:00 PM
Program End Time: 4:00 PM
Group Size per Date/Time: 80 students and 2 guests each
Venue/Location: National Museum of American History, 1300 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20560
Student names and work samples will be submitted directly to DCPS at a later date. 


*Cancellation Policy: For Smithsonian Cornerstones programs, teachers may register up to 14 days in advance of the desired program date, with prior approval from their school administration. If a cancellation is made within 14 days of the program date, there may be a fee incurred. If your school needs to make any changes to your registration, including rescheduling, please contact as soon as possible. Rescheduling will be based on availability of remaining program dates listed in the Teacher Registration Forms.

*Please note the DC Collaborative will be closed between December 21st and January 1st, but the Teacher Registration Forms will remain open. Any submissions made during this time frame will be confirmed on January 2nd. 

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Mailing: 975 F Street, NW
Location: 923 F Street, NW, #303
Washington, DC 20004
P: 202.470.6467

The DC Collaborative is a FY19 Service Organization grant recipient of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities.

The DC Collaborative is proud to receive a grant for its Collective Impact work supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.