"I became interested in science, actually, and astronomy, when I was about 13, a little bit older than some of you are now," Wilson said.
Wilson said when she was a student, she was assigned to interview someone who she felt had an interesting career. She chose to interview an astronomer at a local college.
"I thought what an interesting career that would be," Wilson said, "especially since he had the chance to sleep during the day and stay awake at night, and as a young person, I thought that would be a very good way to spend my life."
After the event, Wilson entertained questions from the crowd ranging from how one puts on a space suit to what she wanted to be when she grew up.
"I wanted to actually be a variety of things that fell in with astronomy and engineering," Wilson said, "but I remember wanting to be a musician and wanting to be a writer, so I had a lot of varied interests, and I think it's important that whatever your interests are you follow them."
Wilson, a Harvard and University of Texas graduate, is originally from Boston. She was selected by NASA in 1996, becoming the second black woman to travel into space.
Last April, Wilson went on a resupply mission to the International Space Station, spending approximately 15 days in space.
Museum officials said it was the biggest crowd the museum had seen for a speaker.