Explore and Experiment: Engage and Explore

Explore and Experiment: Engage and Explore

Learn how Anand Varma and his team create the conditions to explore and experiment creating the intellectual space to allow a generation of new wonders based on what they are learning.


4 - 12+


Biology, Storytelling, Experiential Learning, Photography

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Made Possible By
The Burroughs Wellcome Fund

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This is part 1 or 3 in the Explore and Experiment Learning Package

A true sense of wonder drives National Geographic Explorers as they ask questions and seek answers about the world they live in. Often, this wonder starts with curiosity about something they have seen or heard or experienced in some way. While curiosity may prompt initial questions, it often disappears when answers are found. Wonder does not. In fact, true wonder persists after answers are found (Conijn et al., 2021). Another difference between curiosity and wonder is that curiosity is sparked around something new, but wonder can also be stimulated by something familiar that is seen in a new way. Once Explorers have articulated their wonder, they work to find ways to investigate and explore new understandings around what they wonder about.

National Geographic Explorer Anand Varma has “fallen in love with this question of, ‘how does life take shape?’” He has “found that a camera is the perfect tool for exploring that question.” This is a broad wonder that Anand could explore with any living organism, but he has been inspired to explore cephalopods. “Cephalopods are a really fascinating group of marine creatures that include octopus, squid, cuttlefish, and nautilus … They're really interesting because they have some of the most complex behavior on our planet, and they've evolved this complex intelligence completely independently from us.” Anand created a WonderLab to provide both the physical space to investigate his wonders and the intellectual space to allow for the generation of new wonders based on what he was learning.

Watch the video I Wonder: Explore and Experiment and pay attention to how Anand and his team create conditions to explore and experiment how cephalopod life takes shape. Use the following prompts to reflect on the video:

  • What are all the different ways Anand and his partners observe the cephalopods?

  • What tools and resources do Anand and his team use in the WonderLab to explore the cephalopods?

  • How do Anand and his team communicate with each other and use each other as resources?


Conijn, J., Rietdijk, W., Broekhof, E., Andre, L., & Schinkel, A. (2021). A theoretical framework and questionnaire for wonder-full education. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 54(3), 423-444.

Media Credits

The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.

Elizabeth Wolzak, Director, Learning Innovation, Edu Lab, National Geographic
Heather J. Johnson, Vanderbilt University
Stephanie Hamilton, Education Consultant, Global Inclusive Learning Design Reviewer
Bayan Atari, National Geographic Society
Clint Parks, National Geographic Society, National Geographic Society
Graphic Design
Patrick Cavanagh, National Geographic Society
Rights Clearance
Jean Cantu, National Geographic Society
Last Updated

March 4, 2024

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