Chicago, Illinois is the third largest city in the United States. It is also a city that is culturally rich and diverse. With its varied architecture, multitude of museums, culinary delights, and its own style of music, Chicago is a smart and fun destination for students groups of all ages and interests.
The Shedd Aquarium
Science and nature students will have fun at the Shedd Aquarium as they explore the 90 unique habitats in the barrel-vaulted galleries of the Waters of the World exhibit. Hundreds of species of fishes, otters, lizards, frogs, turtles and other marine animals are housed in natural habitats that reveal their world above and below the waterline making it a great introduction and overview of life in the waters of the Earth.
The Shedd’s Wild Reef exhibit consists of 20 different habitats and features 500 species, including two dozen sharks, in the largest public display of live coral in the Midwest. The Wild Reef is a living illustration of the importance, diversity and frailty of reefs and is a great learning tool for students of biology, marine biology, and ecology.
The Shedd Aquarium’s other exhibits include Amazon Rising, Caribbean Reef, Oceanarium, and a variety of changing exhibits. And to increase the level of fun and learning, the Shedd Aquarium offers a variety of “Ten Fun Finds” on their website, www.sheddaquarium.org.
See “Sue” at The Field Museum
The Field Museum of Natural History is a must-see stop for any educational travel group. This museum was founded to house the biological and anthropological collections that were assembled for the Columbian Exposition of 1893 and it is still one of the most prestigious natural history museums in the world.
Students visiting the Field Museum will be able to come face-to face with the largest most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex fossil in the world, Sue. And if dinosaurs get your students excited, check out the Field’s Evolving Planet exhibit where visitors can journey through 4 billion years of life on Earth. This Exhibit is packed with unique fossils, large and small, animated videos, interactive displays, dioramas, and more dinosaurs than you can count.
Because the Field Museum offers so many different exhibits and learning opportunities, it is suggested that teachers check out the resources for them on the website, www.fieldmuseum.org, to help plan and organize their visit with a student group.
Hands-On at the Museum of Science and Industry
On the more human side of history, the Museum of Science and Industry is one of the largest science museums in the world. It houses more than 35,000 artifacts and close to 14 acres of hands-on exhibits that will spark a student travel group’s creativity and interest in scientific inquiry. ROTC and JROTC students will enjoy the chance to see the only German U-boat in the country and even go on board it. And after a day of walking, everyone can sit back and enjoy a scientific adventure in the Omnimax Theatre, a five-story wrap-around theatre.
Lincoln Park Zoo – A Living Oasis
The Lincoln Park Zoo, just north of Chicago, is a natural oasis for animal lovers. It is a green world of wildlife in the shadow of skyscrapers where lion’s roar and gorillas climb trees. The Lincoln Park Zoo is a living, breathing classroom, allowing students to learn about today’s natural world in juxtaposition to the world’s fossils they learned about at the Field Museum. The zoo is open 365 days of the year and is always free. The website, www.lpzoo.org offers animal fact sheets and planners for field trips and a perfect afternoon at the zoo with your students.
Entertainment for Student Travel Groups in Chicago
Student travel groups can round out their visit to Chicago with visits to the Navy Pier. This Midwest version of Coney Island, Water Tower Place, features an eight level atrium and over a hundred stores. Do not forget to put high rises on the student travel itinerary. Sears Tower Skydeck or the John Hancock Observatory both offer sweeping views of the Chicago skyline.
Students Travel Groups: Well Fed Chicago Style
When everyone gets hungry, there are marvelous restaurants across the city. For some authentic Chicago deep-dish pizza, you may want to dine at Gino’s East Pizza. And for great food and fun times, you may want to take your student group to the Hard Rock Café or the Rainforest Café.
Educational Travel…and All That Jazz
As you go from place to place, your students will marvel at the wealth of architecture, the soaring skyscrapers, and an enormous untitled sculpture by Picasso; budding musicians will delight to hear some real Chicago jazz; and everyone will enjoy the view of Lake Michigan and two great rivers. All in all a three or four day trip to the Windy City is rich in educational opportunities and experiences for any student group. Because Chicago is such a large city with many sights worth seeing, it’s best to start planning your trip with some research and the help of an educational travel professional.
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