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A Middle School Trip to Washington D.C. to Study American History

Lisa Wertz is a middle school teacher who brought her 8th grade class to Washington D.C. each year.  “I always felt that the trip was good preparation for high school,” said Wertz. The visit to Washington DC is “great preparation for the 8th graders since they will take government classes in 9th grade,” added Wertz. An in depth look at the places in Washington D.C. which house the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government was also a once in a lifetime experience for many of the students who traveled on these trips from Boulder, Colorado to the East Coast.

Educational Trip to Washington D.C. Includes Time with Senator

Thanks to advanced planning, there were also added educational experiences on the most recent class trip to Washington D.C. In addition to seeing the White House and U.S. Capitol, the class was able to meet with Senator Bennet during their visit.  “It was impressive,” said Wertz, “We met with Senator Bennet in the agricultural committee room in the Russell Building.”  She said students were able to ask him questions.  This type of interactive experience is possible for many student tours, though not all participate with representatives in this way. Sometimes a representative’s schedule or lack of enough advanced planning can prevent a group from dialoguing directly with their congressmen or senators.  Trip leaders should ask a student travel consultant for procedures on booking time with representatives.  Book six months to one year in advance of the visit to Washington D.C.

Casey Middle School Government Students Participate in Mock Hearing

In addition to meeting with Senator Bennet, Representative Jared Polis’ staff conducted a mock committee hearing for Wertz’s middle school group.   She said students learned how bills are sometimes attached to other bills.  The topics presented included Medical Marijuana and the Dream Act.  This mock hearing enabled students to better understand the day-to-day workings of a democratic government.  In this setting, students, like representatives, are challenged to listen to and assimilate the opinions of all sides.

Other D.C. Destinations on the Class Trip

There were other destinations on this trip to Washington D.C. that tied in well with the curriculum. The group was able to visit the Supreme Court.  Students looked at the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, which was a highlight for many.  They also visited the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum and the American and Natural History Museum — two popular choices for student groups.

Students See Mount Vernon by Boat and Land

On their final day on tour, Wertz’s students took a Spirit Cruise around Mount Vernon and spent the day at George and Martha Washington’s estate.  Wertz said, “We designed a scavenger hunt for Mount Vernon. Students used their cell phone cameras to record the information they found there.  It was really fun!”   Incorporating the tools of new technology into the Mount Vernon visit helped to interest students in history by engaging them more deeply with the artifacts and structures there.

Casey Middle School’s four day, three night tour was packed with even more interesting activities.  They visited the Newseum and had a full tour of the Holocaust Museum. Each of these museums has a great deal to offer the student of American History and government.  Both museums are relatively new, and integrate interactive technology into exhibits.

On this unique tour, students took an in-depth look at U.S. government and studied how it functions in a free society.  They were able to visit sites of historical significance, speak directly to their representatives and participate in a mock hearing.  A combination of indoor and outdoor destinations created a full itinerary with plenty of opportunity for learning.

Request a Quote for the U.S. History/Government tour of Washington D.C. or email info@educationaltravelconsultants.com.

Visit the New National Musuem of American History in Washington D.C.

Plan an Educational Tour of the National Museum of American History in Washington DC

Student field trips and educational tours to famous, metropolitan cities like New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington DC are popular these days, but in the fall of 2008 a Washington DC educational student travel destination reopens that everyone will want to visit. On Friday, November 21, 2008 the National Museum of American History opens its doors after over two years and $85 million of architectural renovations. According to a July 30, 2008 press release from the National Museum of American History the center core of the building has been redesigned to improve architectural appeal and modernize the presentation of the museum’s extensive collections. The redesign includes construction of a skylit 5-story atrium, grand staircase and a new Star-Spangled Banner Gallery.

Visit the Museum of American History and Make Your Washington DC Student Travel Tour a Success

An Inspirational and Educational Field Trip: Visit the 200-Year-Old Star Spangled Banner
In the center of Washington DC’s American History Museum the Star-Spangled Banner Gallery was built to inspire visitors through the dramatic and powerful story of the American flag and the national anthem. The Star-Spangled Banner gallery is a state of the art facility made to protect, preserve and display the American flag. Housed behind a 45-foot tall, floor to ceiling glass wall in a special, climate controlled chamber the flag’s wool and cotton fibers are monitored and maintained. Low light levels and the projection of the first stanza of Francis Scott Key’s poem, “The Star Spangled Banner” on the wall above and behind the flag provide excellent visibility for museum visitors. According to the American History Museum’s web site, “The History Channel, a donor through financial contributions and in-kind gifts, will release a new one-hour special touching on the flag’s colorful history, including the specialized conservation treatment undertaken by the museum and the new high-tech flag chamber.” As a part of the ‘Save Our History’ series, the History Channel documentary airs this fall.

Celebrate American History: Take a Class Trip to See the White House Copy of President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address

Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, given on November 19, 1863, is one of the most well-known and memorable speeches in American history. The manuscript, displayed at the National Museum of American History in Washington DC, is one of five drafts and the last known to have been written in Lincoln’s own hand in March of 1864. This copy of the Gettysburg Address is officially part of a collection kept at the White House in the private quarters of the Lincoln Bedroom. First Lady Laura Bush approved the loan of this copy to the Washington DC American History Museum until January 4, 2009.

Additional Museum Exhibitions Perfect for Student Tour Groups and Student Trips
On the second floor of the National Museum of American History the Nina and Ivan Selin Welcome Center serves as a landmark and houses historical objects like the Vassar College telescope from 1865. The telescope is situated on the west wing of the first floor to represent science and technology and was used by the first woman astronomer in America. The west wing also includes a hands-on science and invention center called the Lemelson Hall of Invention and Spark!Lab. One of the program highlights planned for the spring of 2009 is the 8,000 square foot ‘On the Water: Stories from Maritime America’ exhibition. In 2009 The Susan and Elihu Rose Gallery will begin to feature rotating exhibits so visitors can encounter varying historic characters every weekend as well as celebrate and learn about various federal holidays.

Make Your Educational Student Tour Unforgettable at Washington DC’s National Museum of American History

The American History Museum renovations also include the construction of the 275-seat Carmichael Auditorium, the Samuel J. and Ethel LaFrak Lobby, new elevators, new restrooms, retail operations, The Constitution Café and the 600-seat Stars and Stripes Café. Historians, families, student travel tours, educational travel services and individuals interested in exploring American history from colonial to modern times can view virtual exhibits and collections online at the National Museum of American History’s web site: americanhistory.si.edu. Museum schedules, special events and educational activities are also available online.

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Washington D.C.: Popular Places to Dine, Entertain, and Shop With Student Travel Groups

Students traveling to Washington D.C. on tour are more likely to enjoy themselves when the educational experience is coupled with dining and entertainment experiences they find exciting. An educational travel company and the tour guide working in the Washington D.C. area can work together to add some age appropriate experiences to student travel that will be well remembered. The good news for parents, teachers, and administrators is that it is not necessary to depart from the educational objectives of the student trip to satisfy the student group’s yearning for something different.

Recently, I interviewed Ann Greenwald, a Tour Director and a licensed Washington D.C. guide who has been working in the profession for eight years. Greenwald has given knowledgeable and insightful guided tours to many student travel groups in and around Washington D.C. and has a real feel for the types of dining, entertainment and shopping experiences students enjoy. The selections discussed are popular and economic choices for student travel tour itineraries.

Student Travel Groups: Shopping in Washington D.C.

When students shop, they do so to purchase souvenirs, or small gifts for their families and friends. A shopping experience for a student on tour in Washington D.C. can be as simple as visiting the National Archives and picking up a replica of the Declaration of Independence in the gift shop. “At the Air and Space Center, students get a kick out of buying the freeze dried ice cream that astronauts eat,” says Ann Greenwald.

Student travel groups often gravitate toward the more economical choices for shopping – such as a souvenir store. Ann Greenwald says there are two very popular stores among student groups in downtown Washington D.C.: “Students love Souvenir City & Joes. Both stores offer reasonably priced t-shirts and sweatshirts. FBI and Secret Service hats are popular among student travel groups and can be purchased at either store. Any shopping experience tied into the educational experience can be rewarding and fun.”

Combine Dining and Entertainment in Washington D.C.: Student Favorites

There are several great restaurants in the Washington D.C. area that combine dining and entertainment and are well loved by student travel groups. “McGill’s Pizza in Annandale, Virginia is a student favorite,” said Greenwald. “McGill’s has an arcade with a game room, so students can win things when they purchase tickets,” she added.
The ESPN Zone, in downtown Washington D.C. is also popular among student travel groups. It’s conveniently located around the corner from Ford’s Theater in Washington D.C. Greenwald says, “Student groups can have a meal, and if it’s included in their tour they receive a $10 card that may be used in the downstairs arcade.”
Another popular eatery for student groups on tour of Washington D.C. is the Hard Rock Café. “Student travel groups just think it’s cool to go into the Hard Rock Café,” says Greenwald. “There’s the memorabilia, pictures, and rock music playing all the time,” she continued, “and all of this adds to the appeal for student travelers.”
Consider combining food and entertainment on a student travel tour of Washington D.C. one evening to lighten the student group’s spirits and put them in a great mood for touring the next day.

Entertainment for Student Travel Groups
There are numerous choices for entertainment in Washington D.C. that will captivate student travel groups. Greenwald says that if it’s in the student travel budget, attending “Sheer Madness” at the Kennedy Center is an evening that student travelers enjoy immensely. The interactive murder mystery dinner theater format gets students involved with the theater production and outcome of the ‘whodunit’ plot.

Finally, an evening illuminated tour of the monuments in Washington D.C. can be a great way to draw student travelers into the experience of history. Greenwald commented, “ As the symbolism is explained at the various monuments, kids gain a better understanding of history. Instead of just staring at an inanimate object, I explain why the monument is there, and what the symbolism signifies. They come away with a greater understanding of U.S. history, and the permanent mark it has left on Washington D.C.” An evening walk around Washington D.C. in the spring or fall adds an outdoor dimension to touring that is appreciated by all. Students should plan accordingly by brining appropriate clothing for Washington D.C. weather during the time of year they visit.

These recommended choices for dining, entertainment and shopping for student travel are by no means a comprehensive list of the possibilities. The suggestions Greenwald makes for student groups on tour of Washington D.C. are simple and cost effective so they make great additions to a trip itinerary. For the student traveler, a tour of Washington D.C. is an intense four to five day learning experience which needs to be balanced with some good old fashioned fun. Request a Quote for a student travel tour of Washington D.C. that includes some great dining, shopping and entertainment choices.

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Popular Choices for the Smithsonian Museum for Educational Travel Groups

The Smithsonian Museum is a much-anticipated destination for student tour groups. The problem is, there are so many museums and so many choices for the student travel group, and many groups are only on tour for 3-4 days. Choose a qualified educational travel consultant to help select and schedule a visit to a portion of the Smithsonian Museum that best matches the learning objectives for the educational tour of Washington D.C.

This article will highlight portions of the Smithsonian Museum that are most often requested for visits by student travel groups. It will not cover all of the Smithsonian Museums. To take a closer look at each museum, please visit their website at http://www.si.edu. This article will also point out aspects of each museum that lend themselves to different areas of academic interest.

Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI)
The National Museum of the American Indian fosters and protects the culture and societies of native peoples of the Western Hemisphere and Hawaii. Educational travel groups will learn a great deal from these exhibits that highlight, culture, artistic and spiritual beliefs, clothing, lifestyles, and livelihoods of Native peoples from across the continent. Educational travel groups will find both historical and contemporary perspective of the tribes. The NMAI is a community organization that also sponsors national PowWows and other events of interest to Native peoples and friends.

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Plants, animals, insects and human life are explored to the fullest at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Student tour groups will be inspired by the diversity of species and cultures represented in this museum’s world class exhibits. Many of the exhibits feature interactive learning opportunities for student travel groups. For example, in the Bug Corner exhibit, visitors are encouraged to hold an insect or feed a tarantula. The Discovery Room also provides an opportunity for hands on learning on a variety of topics. Educational travel groups of all ages are thrilled at the opportunity to explore the National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C.

Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
The United States has always been on the cutting edge in the exploration of space, air travel, and new technology. Student travel groups look forward to their visit to the National Air and Space Museum to view historic artifacts, tour the 22 exhibition galleries, visit the Lockheed Martin IMAX Theater, and test the flight simulators. Educational travel groups will also want to visit the Albert Einstein Planetarium for one of two daily shows.

National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery reopened to the public in July of 2006 in a newly restored historic building in Washington D.C. The National Portrait Gallery is a great way for student travel groups to embrace the artistic treasures that are contained within American history. The National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. displays portraits of “men and women who have made significant contributions to the history, development and culture of the people of the United States.” The collection of over 20,000 portraits in various media is organized thematically in various exhibitions. Educational travel groups will not want to miss the “American Presidents” gallery, Colonial American portraits, and The American Revolution, singers and patriots.

The Smithsonian Museum is a wonderful treasure that highlights some of the most noteworthy aspects of American history and culture. Schedule a visit to the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C that is best suited to student learning objectives and curriculum. To learn more about other student travel destinations in Washington D.C. visit http://www.educationaltravelconsultants.com.

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