Tag Archives: educational group travel

A Junior High Class Trip to Washington D.C. and Williamsburg VA

This past spring, a junior high school from Texas traveled to Williamsburg, Virginia and Washington D.C. on a class trip that was organized around the theme of American history. This was the first time that 8th grade teacher Bobbi Goodson led a school group on a trip. She had many interesting observations about the trip and the process of bringing nearly 50 people across the U.S. for a learning experience they will never forget.

Q. What made you decide to sponsor a class trip to Williamsburg and Washington D.C.?
A. In previous years, other teachers had taken this on. I always heard great stories when students came back. The teacher who had done this previously was unable to organize a trip this year because she had a new baby at home. I decided it was time for me to lead a trip.

Q. What course do you teach at Pleasanton Junior High School? How was the trip related to your curriculum?

A. I teach 8th grade special education. My students need assistance with reading comprehension. The object of my course work is to improve reading skills and get kids focused on the study of math, science and history. In eighth grade history courses, students learn about Colonial American history. They study Jamestown and the inception of the colonies, as well as the life of George Washington and the Revolutionary War, among other things. So, a trip to Washington D.C. with an additional day or two in Williamsburg was the perfect complement to course work.

Q. What sites did you visit in Williamsburg, VA?
A. We visited Jamestown Settlement, where living history actors were dressed in costumes. The students saw replicas of the three ships colonists landed on and they saw what a settlement encampment might look like. We also took the lantern tour in the evening in Williamsburg, and a daytime tour of Colonial Williamsburg.

Q. How did the students (and you) respond to the idea of learning from living history?
A. The living history actors and actresses are dressed in period costumes. This type of learning is very hands-on. I found it to be kid friendly and interactive. There was certainly an awe factor and students responded well. Compared to a museum setting, listening to a story about history by a dressed interpreter was far more appealing and engaging for this age group.

Q. What sites did you visit in Washington D.C.? And which were most memorable for students?

A. We visited the Washington Cathedral, the Holocaust Museum, Arlington National Cemetery, the Supreme Court, Mount Vernon, and we even had a photograph in front of the White House. The number of dead buried at Arlington National Cemetery astounded students. There were also plenty of comments about the Holocaust Museum. I don’t think students had any idea how many died there, until they saw a room filled with shoes, and numerous videos that described the events. They also found the trip to Mount Vernon and Jamestown Settlement memorable because of the exciting way history was presented at each site. Also, their history course had prepared them pretty well for Jamestown and Mount Vernon.

Q. How were your tour guides and bus drivers? Were they personable and responsive to your needs?

A. Ann Greenwald was our Washington D.C. tour guide and she was fabulous. She had a deep knowledge of the area and helped to adapt our itinerary to meet our needs. When time was running out she helped us to hit the hot spots in Washington D.C. She helped students by pointing out things they might have missed along the way. She had an excellent rapport with the children. Everyone in the group loved our bus driver. It felt like we would not have had the same experience if we did not have this tour guide and bus driver. We were on the go from morning until night and I was surprised we could all keep up – but we did!

Q. What type of response did parents have after the class trip was completed?

A. I ran into some parents afterwards while shopping around town. Many said they never could have done a family trip to Washington D.C. for their child. They were thankful their children were able to experience this. Some of the parents who were chaperones appreciated the time they had to spend with their child before they became high school students.

Goodson also mentioned that the five day, four night trip offered a great deal, but kids were missing their parents by the end of the trip. “Of course you always lose at least one cell phone to a swimming pool,” said Goodson. She was most appreciative of the security provided at the hotel at night, which made her sleep sounder, too. “If I ever lead a trip again,” commented Goodson, “I will make sure security is included.”

For junior high school students from Texas, a trip to the East Coast helped to enrich their study of American history and give them a new perspective about the founding of our country. It was also a welcome change of pace and scenery they will remember for years to come.

To obtain more information about a class trip to Washington D.C., email info@educationaltravelconsultants.com or request a quote online.

Take a Student Trip to Lowell, Massachusetts and Journey Back to the Beginning of the Industrial Revolution

by Howard Clemens

When bringing a student group to tour Boston, you may also want to consider adding a short excursion to Lowell, Massachusetts. Lowell was founded as a manufacturing town in the Merrimack Valley and is considered the “cradle of the American Industrial Revolution.” Also the birthplace of author Jack Kerouac, Lowell is rich with history and stories of the beginning of the United States.

Historical Sites of Interest to Student Groups
Lowell is home to the Lowell National Historical Park, a 141-acre park. Though it is not the first urban national park, it is the largest in the country. The park includes a Visitor Center, and many restored and un-restored sites from the 19th century. The Visitor Center provides a free self-guided student tour of the history of Lowell, including exhibits such as the patent model of a loom by local inventor S. Thomas. The visitor center also includes a 20 minute video entitled “Lowell: The Industrial Revolution.”

Right Outside of Boston, Mass. Lowell Provides Insight into the Industrial Revolution
The Boott Mills sit along the Merrimack River, on the Eastern Canal, and are the oldest and most fully restored manufacturing sites in the district. The Boott Mill provides a walk-through museum with living re-creations of the textile manufacturing process in the 19th century. Adjacent to the Boot Mills is the Tsongas Industrial History Center, a hands-on center where weaving, creating canals, testing water wheels and working on an assembly line are some of the interactive activities for students.
A walkway along the river leads to several additional un-restored mill sites, providing views of restored and un-restored canal raceways once used by the mills. Additionally, the park includes the Patrick J Mogan Cultural Center, which focuses on the lives of Lowell’s many generations of immigrants.

The park includes a 5.6 mile power canal system. Boat and trolley tours along the Pawtucket Canal are offered late Spring through fall. Reproductions of 1901 electric trolley cars operate Spring through Fall. Other exhibits include canal boat tours exploring some of the city’s gatehouses and locks and the River Transformed/Suffolk Mill Turbine Exhibit, which shows how water power, namely the Francis Turbine, was once used to run Lowell’s textile factories.

Lowell is also home to Lowell-Dracut-Tyngsboro State Forest, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Vandenberg Esplanade, and the University of Massachusetts Lowell Radiation Laboratory which houses a small nuclear reactor. Lowell is the birthplace of Jack Kerouac and Academy Award-winning actress Bette Davis. Jack Kerouac’s gravesite is in Lowell’s Edson Cemetery. Another literary historical site of interest to student tour groups is The Worthen House, where Edgar Allan Poe allegedly wrote “The Raven,” a story known to all American students.

Women’s History in Lowell, MA
The term “Lowell Mill Girls” is used to describe the city’s 19th century female textile workers, who comprised about 75 percent of the city’s textile workforce. In 1845, the women organized a group called the Lowell Female Labor Reform Association and demanded a ten-hour workday. The petition they sent to the Massachusetts General Court led to the first government investigations into labor conditions in the United States.

Lowell is also the birthplace of Mary Hallaran, former director of the United States Women’s Army Corps. When asked by a superior what someone of her short stature could do for the military, she famously replied, “You don’t have to be six feet tall to have a brain that works.”

Touring Lowell with Student Trips
The Western Avenue studios provide an artistic picture of Lowell’s culture for student groups. A converted mill on Western Avenue which houses over 160 working artists and musicians, the studios are open to the public on the 1st Saturday of each month from 12-5 p.m.

With Lowell’s textile history, it is particularly suited as home to the New England Quilt Museum. The Quilt Museum includes 150 quilts which showcase the history of American textiles in quilts and quilt tops. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. and has special hours on Sundays from May through December. The museum also offers discount tickets to students.

Lowell, MA. is the Perfect Add on to a Boston Student Trip
The city uses old freight lines to run streetcars from the center of the city to many of the city’s historical destinations. It also runs a public transit bus system throughout the city and is connected to Boston through commuter rail making it easy for educational groups visiting Boston to add Lowell, Massachusetts to their itinerary. Your educational travel consultant can help you make the best arrangements for your student group.

The National Museum of Crime and Punishment in Washington D.C.

A new museum just opened this year in Washington D.C. that is of interest to student travel groups — the National Museum of Crime and Punishment. This museum traces the history of crime in the United States and our legal system’s methods of punishing criminal behavior.

The exhibits at the National Museum of Crime and Punishment are multimedia, three dimensional, and some are even interactive. Student travel groups will love the interactive exhibits that trace the history of notorious criminals and the consequences for crime throughout the centuries.

Interactive Crime Exhibits for Student Travel: Fun and Education
Students can experience the punishments for crime at the National Museum of Crime and Punishment. Some examples of great exhibits include: visiting a booking station, getting fingerprinted, visiting the jail cell and taking a lie detector test. Students can even climb onto a Harley Davidson motorcycle designed for a police officer and rev the engine. The opportunity to experience the history of crime in this hands-on way excites student groups and engages them more deeply in the learning experience.

The Facts About the History of Crime: Washington D.C.
The National Museum of Crime and Punishment does a fine job of conveying useful, factual, historical information about the history of legal investigations into the perpetrators of crime. The museum also incorporates several modes of communication into exhibits: print, television and film. Public fascination for crime and punishment is also well represented.

CSI Experience and America’s Most Wanted Exhibits
Many student travelers have come to understand criminal behavior and investigations through popular television programs such as CSI Experience or America’s Most Wanted. The National Museum of Crime and Punishment incorporates elements of both popular television shows into their exhibits.

For example, John Walsh, the driving force behind America’s Most Wanted, is featured at the Museum. And, the fully operational filming studio of America’s Most Wanted is actually housed on the second floor. The show has been a huge influence in capturing criminals at large, and is actually teamed with the Federal Bureau of Investigations.

The CSI Experience exhibit is not just for fans of the television program. It really is a wonderful way to learn about forensics and the methodology behind this science. Some relatively new technologies such as DNA testing are helping to solve murders that happen now or have been cold cases for years. Reconstruction of the crime scene, autopsies, artifacts, and interviews all become a ‘body of evidence’ when trying to convict criminals. The CSI Experience helps students to understand that details, hard work, expertise, and ability to critically analyze a crime scene are all skills that a true crime scene investigator must cultivate in order to out think perpetrators of violent crimes.

Student travelers can stop inside the Cop Shop towards the end of their visit to the National Museum of Crime and Punishment for authentic crime fighting memorabilia.

To add a trip to the National Museum of Crime and Punishment to a student travel itinerary to Washington D.C. email info@educationaltravelconsultants.com or call 800-247-7969.

The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C: A Student Travel Favorite

When it comes to seeing some of the finest in musical and performance talent, The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. is a favorite choice for student travel trips.

Many performance tours, such as student orchestras, jazz ensembles, marching bands, and ensembles, visit The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. These groups are looking for a specific travel experience in Washington D.C. that reflects their unique learning focus. The Kennedy Center can also be an excellent choice for an itinerary for any type of student traveler (even those not on performance tour). The Kennedy Center offers an excellent evening of entertainment to complement any student travel trip. It can also offer the musical or performance insight that performance students seek.

Kennedy Center Performances for Student Travel Groups
The Kennedy Center has a very special list of educational performances just for school groups. These performances educate student travel groups about the performing arts as a career choice, expand on their knowledge of the arts, and challenge their critical thinking skills. An example of an educational performance is the WNO Student Dress Rehearsal for classics such as Rigoletto and Elektra. These dress rehearsals teach students about the necessary preparations for formal performance. This unique glimpse into the behind the scenes work of artists performing at the Kennedy Center allows students to view this career choice realistically.

On occasion, some of the better known musicians and performers (such as Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater) will give mini performances for student travel groups during their stay at The Kennedy Center. All of these types of performances enrich the student traveler’s experience and provide a wonderful foundation for their own performances.

Fall Highlights for the National Symphony Orchestra
The National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) is housed at The Kennedy Center, and is a unique cultural experience for any student travel group. The NSO performs on a regular schedule and is composed of some of the finest musicians in the nation. Consider some of the creative musical fusion on the fall 2008 schedule. In the fall of 2008 NSO Pops plays with Arlo Guthrie on September 18th and Linda Eder sings Judy Garland songs with Marvin Hamlisch conducting on September 25. These exciting musical guests bring both innovation and exceptional musical talent to the program.

Planning The Kennedy Center Visit
Advance planning is key to a successful student travel trip and to booking the performance that works best for a specific group. Many student travel groups and/or their planners want to see the National Symphony Orchestra perform. Or perhaps, they want to see the popular show Sheer Madness, a comedy mystery who-dunnit that the audience participates in solving. In any case, advance ticket purchase is necessary for student groups.

One of Educational Travel Consultant’s professional staff will be happy to assist with this task while creating a student travel trip to Washington D.C. Just email info@educationaltravelconsultants.com or fill out our request a quote form for more information on specific destinations and itineraries.

Student Travel Groups Tour the Historic Canals in and Near Washington D.C.

In Early America, ships and boats transferred food, people, and other items into the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. To expedite progress and create a transportation system that benefited all, a canal system was built that connected the Potomac River to inland waterways and ultimately Ohio. The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal was a pivotal moment in U.S. history because it created nearly 200 miles of waterway for the efficient passage of goods and people.

Student Travel Groups Headed to Washington D.C.: Don’t Miss the Canal

The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal was created in the 19th Century. During this period in our nation’s history, many people along the Potomac River benefited with jobs generated from the flurry of business on the Canal. Today, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal are maintained by the National Park Service, which preserves and protects 184 miles of the former Canal route and its history.

The Great Falls of the Potomac in Northern Virginia: an Engineering Feat
The National Park Service also oversees the Great Falls of the Potomac in Northern Virginia. The Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center is just 15 miles outside of Washington D.C. These Falls were once seen as a severe challenge to building the canal, but this was overcome when a series of locks were installed here. Student travel groups find the rugged rock formations, river scenery, and historic inn stimulating, so the short drive outside Washington D.C. is entirely worthwhile.

Student travel groups on their way to Washington D.C. will want to schedule a visit to one or both sites in order to gain a full understanding of the canal system, and the way in which it functioned and enriched the region where it was located.

Add a Trip to the Georgetown Visitor Center in Downtown Washington D.C.

For student travel groups visiting the Washington D.C. metropolitan area for several days, it is easy to add a visit to the Georgetown Visitor Center of the Canal to the itinerary. Students can take a ride on a canal boat at this location or at the Great Falls Visitor Center. There is a nominal additional fee for canal boat tours, but it’s well worth it for student groups to experience the excitement of really taking a ride on a replica of an historic canal boat.

The visitor centers are also great places to see films and participate in interpretive programs that explain to student travel groups the historical high points of the canal system, the people who built it, made a livelihood on the canals, or used it for travel.

Teachers Take Note: And Educational Kit for Prepping Student Travelers

The educational programs offered by the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park are designed to meet U.S. History Standards for students in grades 5-12. There is an excellent place on the park’s website http://www.nps.gov/choh/forteachers/aboutthislesson.htm teachers may visit in order to prepare student travel groups for the trip to Washington D.C. to see the historic canals.

How to Study the Historic Canals in and Near Washington D.C.
There are many different angles from which the canals can be studied. They are not only a great engineering feat, but impacted the economy of the region and this country in a profound way. There is so much to learn about these historic canals. Students will gain a better understanding of the way in which the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal was built and also how it helped advance transportation to meet the pressing needs of an industrial world that was quickly switching to automation for many aspects of life.

Our founding father, George Washington, played a crucial role in the construction of the Potomac Canal, which is one way of stressing its importance. Student travel organizers and educators will want to consider adding a canal visit to their itinerary for Washington D.C. trips. A member of the professional Educational Travel Consultants team will be happy to assist. Email info@educationaltravelconsultants.com for more information.

Plymouth, Salem, and Lowell Massachusetts: Boston Student Travel Destinations

Student travel groups destined for Boston Mass. are headed to one of the most popular student destinations in the U.S. Chosen as the 5th most popular student tour destination by Student and Youth Traveler, Boston has a great deal to offer. Educational tour groups find diversity in this urban area, and a clearer understanding the early history of Colonial settlement in New England.

Boston was a prominent seaport and a hub in the early days of the Colonies, and one of the strongholds of British rule. Many different periods of U.S. History can be explored in Boston. There are also some historic sites and points of interest just a short bus drive outside of Boston that student travel groups will not want to miss.

Student Travel Highlights of Plymouth
Just north of Boston on the coast of Massachusetts is Plymouth, the place where the Pilgrims made their first landing in the new world. Plymouth was the site of a colonial settlement and newfound freedom from the Church of England, celebrated by the Puritans.

Plimoth Plantation
Plimoth Plantation is a living history site where students can engage with costumed interpreters dressed in the garb of settlers in an English village circa 1627. Student travel groups can watch colonists in their day-to-day activities and better imagine how the early settlers lived. Educational tour groups may also visit the Wampanoag Home site. There they will gain an understanding of the way this Native American tribe that originally inhabited Plimoth lived.

Mayflower II
This reproduction of the original vessel the Pilgrims sailed on is a student favorite. Student groups can learn about maritime travel in the 17th Century, see a ship’s cabin from that era, and discover what it was like to live on board during a transatlantic journey. Student groups will meet both costumed and non-costumed interpreters on Mayflower II. Board the Mayflower II and journey back in time at this destination.

Plymouth Rock
Not far from the pier where the Mayflower II is anchored, is Plymouth Rock, the actual site of the first landing of Pilgrims from the old world, coming to the new world. A portico now surrounds the symbolic stone, and 1620, the date the Pilgrims landed, is etched on it. Student travel groups can learn more about the Pilgrims and the history of Plymouth Rock in Revolutionary times and during times of unrest.

Salem
Salem Witch Museum

The Salem Witch Museum has much to offer educational travel groups who want to learn more about the consequences of religious intolerance during the Colonial period. The Salem Witch Trials of 1692 were held here, and the book, The Crucible, was based on the accusations that eventually led to the death of the accused. The Salem area includes 10 sites near Salem Common, such as the site of the courthouse, the Meetinghouse, Cemetery, and Gallows. Student travel groups will learn much by visiting the Salem Witch Museum and touring the Salem Common area.

Lowell, Mass.
Lowell National Historic Park

Just outside of Boston Mass. is Lowell, the New England town where Jack Kerouac, the famous American Writer, grew up. Kerouac’s family was French Canadian and they migrated to Lowell to find work in the textile mills. The National Park Service has preserved historic areas of Lowell, where the textile mills became an integral part of small town American life, and working class life, especially during the post World War I era, when the industrial revolution began to really take hold in the United States. Students can see the dam and canals that used the energy from the Merrimack river, the textile mills where fabric was made, and a boardinghouse that would be typical of many worker’s dwellings of that era.

Boston is a colorful place to explore the history of Early America. Don’t limit student travel group destinations to Boston proper. There are many rich educational experiences for students just outside of Boston that can easily be integrated into a tour. Visit http://www.educationaltravelconsultants.com for even more ideas about student travel tours to Boston.

Add On Day Trips for Student Travel to Washington D.C.

Student travel groups headed to the Washington D.C. area may want to consider adding on day or overnight trips to nearby areas relevant to colonial or revolutionary history. There are many rich educational experiences in the Washington D.C. area, and even more destinations just a 2-4 hour driving distance outside of Washington D.C.
In my experience as an educational travel consultant, groups benefit greatly from visiting additional cities. From an educational perspective, it gives students a much wider scope of the historic period they are studying. For many groups, a study of the Civil War is relevant to their tour, and a northern and southern perspective is needed for a complete overview of the Civil War period.
Suggestions for additional cities that can easily be added to a student travel trip to Washington D.C. are included here. If the student group flies into Washington D.C., a motor coach can be utilized to travel to additional destinations such as Williamsburg, Gettysburg, and Philadelphia and Lancaster.

Williamsburg
Approximately three hours south of Washington D.C. is the town of Williamsburg Virginia. Williamsburg was the 18th Century colonial capital, and the place where the Governor resided. Colonial Williamsburg has been called the living history capital of the east, and for good reason. A student travel group can tour the town and watch history come alive as costumed interpreters tell stories derived from historical records, and give more detailed information about buildings and colonial lifestyles. Students embrace living history because it’s a fun way to learn. If student groups can stay in the Williamsburg area overnight, an additional trip to Historic Jamestown, site of the first permanent English settlement, and Yorktown National Battlefield, significant in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, is plausible.

Gettysburg
The Gettysburg National Military Park is located about two hours northwest of Washington D.C. and makes for a nice additional city to add on to a student travel tour.

The Educational Travel Consultants student tour of the Gettysburg battlefields includes a tour guide with expert knowledge of the Gettysburg area and the Civil War era. Student travel groups should be prepared to tour for two to three hours. A visit the National Park Visitor Center benefits student groups by giving them a better understanding of the Gettysburg National Battlefield history through exhibits and films.

Philadelphia and Lancaster
Student travel groups who explore the educational venues in Washington D.C. will expand their knowledge of history when they take a short trip to Philadelphia and/or Lancaster Pennsylvania.
The Philadelphia walking tour is a great way for student travel groups to familiarize themselves with colonial history and the history of the U.S. government. A tour of Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution were both composed. Students can also see the Liberty Bell, Visit Betsy Ross’s house and walk in Elfreth’s Alley, one of the oldest residential streets in Philadelphia, which dates back to 1702.
In nearby Lancaster Pennsylvania, students can experience the Amish way of life, tour a working farm, and dine at an authentic Amish restaurant.
With all of the additional choices for educational travel outside of Washington D.C., there are lots of creative ways to construct an interesting trip that will give a group a great overview of history and be fun and interesting at the same time.

Here’s a link to the article on ArticleSphere.com.