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Student Travel Ideas: Celebrated American Writers from Philadelphia

by Howard Clemens

For student travel groups headed to Philadelphia, an historic tour is not complete without visiting the historic homes of famous American writers who lived there and penned their work there. A trip to a writer’s home provides a window into his domestic life, and the homes are well-preserved or restored. Teachers interested in creating a blended learning experience can have their students can read the works of these Celebrated authors as preparation for the trip.

Edgar Allen Poe, Ben Franklin and James Michener all lived in Philadelphia at some point in their writing careers. Poe was originally from Richmond, Virginia. He relocated his wife and mother to Philadelphia to assume editorial positions at literary magazines. Ben Franklin grew up in Boston. He took ship to Philadelphia to escape the tutelage of his father. Franklin would found his own printing press and purchase a newspaper, the Pennsylvania Gazette. He wrote many articles for this publication under various pseudonyms. He is well known for The Autobiography of Ben Franklin, which is his mythologized version of his trip to Philadelphia as a young man. Franklin is also known for Poor Richard’s Almanack, where his memorable phrases about life were recorded. James Michener is a celebrated American writer who penned non-fiction, historical novels about the U.S. He is best known for Centennial, Chesapeake and Alaska.

The Poe House, Philadelphia PA
Student tours of Philadelphia should include a look at the Poe House, at 7th and Spring Garden Streets. The only weekday this National Historic Site is open is Friday, so plan itineraries accordingly. Take advantage of a Ranger led tour of Poe’s home. Choose from “Poe’s Life, Literature and Legacy” or “Poe in Philadelphia.” The six years Poe spent living in Philadelphia were some of his most productive. He wrote the short story, “The Fall of the House of Usher” in Philadelphia and was employed as an editor and a critic. Poe’s influence reached European writers. His literary achievements include writing the first detective story and pioneering science fiction, by looking towards the future based on new technologies. Student trips can explore Poe’s reading room and the parlor, where his desk was located, as well as his bedroom and the basement. There is a replica of an air balloon students can launch – and more interactive exhibits.

Ben Franklin: The quintessential Philadelphian
Not only was Benjamin Franklin an inquisitive writer, a printer, a legislator and diplomat – but he was also a scientific genius. Franklin experimented with electricity and other new phenomenon that characterized the Early American era in which he lived. In high school history class, students are taught Ben Franklin was one of the founding signors of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia. Yet there is so much more beneath the surface of this fascinating figure. Franklin ran away from an overbearing father in Boston, and elevated himself to a prominent life in Philadelphia. He escalated his visibility using a printing press and a pen that rivals Mark Twain’s sarcasm. Franklin wrote under numerous pseudonyms in his day. The Benjamin Franklin Museum located in Franklin Court, with entrances on 3rd and 4th Street. A visit here is the best way a student travel group can become acquainted with his life and work as a statesman, printer and scientist. Though Franklin’s old residence is no longer standing, an outline of the old building remains. This is also known as the ‘ghost house’ in Franklin court.

James Michener: The Cultured Philadelphian
Born in New York City, Michener’s family moved to Doylestown, Pennsylvania when he was a child. He left at the age of 20 and hitchhiked cross country. Michener returned to study at Swarthmore College, where he graduated with highest honors. Michener is known for his historical fiction about the United States, tracing the land’s beginnings as far back as scientific evidence and the imagination can conceive. Some of his best known works include: Chesapeake, Alaska and Centennial. Michener’s writing career was etched in stone when he won the Pulitzer Prize for his novel, Tales of the South Pacific (1947). This was later turned into a wildly popular Broadway Musical by Rodgers and Hammerstein and abbreviated to South Pacific. Student tours will want to see the James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. Michener funded the museum for his beloved Doylestown, where he maintained a foothold and a residence.

Student trips to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania offer many opportunities for English, History and Social Studies students. Places such as the Edgar Allen Poe house (and basement), the ghost of Benjamin Franklin’s home (and Museum) and the James A. Michener Art Museum are only a sampling of many famous writers and thinkers who lived and worked in the Philadelphia area. Students may continue to engage in studies of these notable figures that changed the American Cultural landscape forever.

For more information on scheduling a student tour of Philadelphia that includes a visit to some or all of these sites, visit http://www.educationaltravelconsultants.com.

Student Travel Groups Visiting NYC: Include a Tour of the Most Magnificent Cathedrals in the World

by Howard Clemens

student travel nyc
Saint John the Divine Cathedral in NYC is a great place for student tour groups to visit.

When most people hear the word ‘cathedral,’ they generally think, initially of cities like London, Paris, and Rome. But it’s also true that many wonders of religious architecture are located in North America. And New York City, in particular, is home to some of the most breathtaking cathedrals in the world. Which means that student travel groups headed to NYC looking to experience the full impact of architectural excess and Catholic iconography are in for a truly immersive treat.

Exploring all of the Big Apple’s cathedrals is a no small task. For Catholic school trip leaders, a full Cathedral Tour of NYC may be desirable. Other class trips may choose to incorporate a tour of one of New York’s cathedrals in a neighborhood they are visiting, or to expand upon the study of a historical period.

Consult with an educational travel company prior to building an itinerary that showcases some of the city’s most impressive cathedrals. So where is a trip leader of a student travel group to begin? This short list of cathedrals in NYC is a great place to start.

student trips nyc
Saint Patrick’s is a famous cathedral in NYC.

Saint Patrick’s Cathedral: A NYC Landmark
With its spectacular Neo-Gothic architecture and interiors modeled on the ancient churches of Italy, the world famous St. Patrick’s Cathedral is a magnificent starting point for any student tour of NYC. The cathedral has over 65 stained glass windows, the most famous being its 26-foot rose window, a towering masterpiece made up of more than 10,000 pieces of glass in a dazzling variety of colors. Students can also see a statue of the Lady of Guadalupe at the Altar of the Sacred Heart, an awe-inspiring devotional site that’s lit by hundreds of candles. For student groups visiting other sites in Manhattan, St. Patrick’s location is perfect. It’s right in the middle of bustling midtown Manhattan, across the street from the Rockefeller Center and its ice-skating rink. A visit to Saint Patrick’s is worthwhile. After visiting the cathedral, student tour groups may want to cap off the day with a fun-filled whirl across the ice.

Saint John the Divine: The Fourth Largest Christian Church in the World
The Cathedral of St. John the Divine, located in the Manhattan “college neighborhood” of Morningside Heights, has the notable distinction of being the fourth largest Christian church in the world. The church is known for its exquisite works of art, which include the Barberini tapestries, woven in the 17th century and inspired by the life of Christ. Saint John the Divine’s entrance is magnificent with its bronze doors, which were cast by Ferdinand Barbedienne of France, the same artist who cast the Statue of Liberty. The cathedral also has its very own cultivated Biblical gardens, which feature a wide variety of the plants and flowers that are mentioned in the Bible. Student travel groups may even take a guided rooftop walking tour, taking them up spiral staircases that wind up to the very top of the cathedral. Since Saint John the Divine is located in an academic neighborhood, groups can take the opportunity to spend part of the day touring famous nearby institutions such as: Union Theological Seminary, the Manhattan School of Music or Columbia University.

Riverside Church: History and Architectural Grandeur
Morningside Heights is also home to Riverside Church. As the tallest church in America (and the 24th tallest church in the world), Riverside covers two full city blocks and boasts a 392-foot bell tower. It is also known for its impressive stained glass apse dome, and for the labyrinthine “maze” inlaid on its floors. The church has a rich cultural and social history. Dignitaries such as Martin Luther King to Nelson Mandela have spoken there. The Riverside Church has its own theater, which is has been host to many musical and dance performances.

New York City has many cathedrals in different neighborhoods, as well as churches with longstanding religious and political histories. These three itinerary selections were made because they are in Manhattan and all student groups visit this part of New York City. To further enhance the student travel experience, work directly with an educational travel company for even more ideas on cathedrals to visit in NYC.

Inquire about booking a cathedral tour that’s bound to be as spiritually enlightening as it is fun and educational: email Educational Travel Consultants at info@educationaltravelconsultants.com, or visit http://www.educationaltravelconsultants.com.

Advance Planning for Student Tours of D.C. to Include White House and Capitol

2015  Student Travel Update

by Howard Clemens

Government, Social Studies & History Teachers often take class trips to Washington D.C. to experience democracy at work. This type of active learning is a great way to immerse students into thinking and questioning about various facets of the U.S. government. Security measures are more complex across the United States and internationally – and rules change from time to time. Nowadays, teachers and trip leaders must be aware advance planning is needed to tour the White House and the Capitol.

For student tour groups headed to Washington D.C. – there are some recent changes in rules about bringing electronic devices to the White House, too. The good news is that students can now bring smart phones in the White House, so long as they do not use it to take video (only still shots). With enough planning, student groups can be well informed about what to bring – and what items to leave on the bus or in the hotel room.

Student Tours of the White House
There is no denying that a tour of the White House can be a memorable experience for students and persons of any age. Trip leaders must be prepared well in advance of the student trip to Washington D.C. A minimum of six months planning time may be required to ensure that every person who is attending the tour provides a formal name, date of birth and city in advance of the trip. On the day of the White House tour, each person must present a valid government picture Identification that matches the information provided exactly. Acceptable forms of ID include: valid government issued photo IDs, drivers license, military ID or a passport for foreign students.

In the past, students were not allowed to bring electronic devices such as smart phones and cameras on tour of the White House. On July 15, 2015 the White House, through Michelle Obama, declared (on a YouTube.com video) that visitors are now allowed to bring their smart phones and small cameras (lens must be 3” or less) on tours. No video recorders are allowed on tour and no live streaming of videos on any device is permitted. Lifting the ban on cell phones and small cameras on White House tours is excellent news for student travelers. Many students want to take photographs and post them to social networks while they tour Washington D.C. Now they can share their experience with others publicly.

Leave Personal Items Behind
While student groups may bring smart phones and cameras, they still must leave their purses, handbags, book bags and backpacks behind on the bus or in the hotel. Similar to school zones, no explosives or firearms are allowed. This includes: aerosol containers, guns, ammunition, fireworks, weapons or knives of any size.

Students may bring their smart phones and cameras but they are still expected to give their full attention on tour. This means students are not permitted to talk or text while on tour. Students will not be allowed to use flash photography, or – as already mentioned – video recording or live streaming on their devices.

Trip leaders and teachers need to make students aware they are in a sensitive area for national security and breeches are taken seriously. While security measures have loosened in some respects, the Secret Service still reserves the right to confiscate phones if they are used in the White House.

Educational Tours of the Capitol Building in Washington D.C.

Though the rules are less strict in the Capitol Building for touring student groups, the advance time frame of six months or more to schedule a tour is still relevant. An educational travel company can book the student group tour online or through the school’s Senator or Representative’s office. Trip leaders do not need to provide advance lists of visitors for a tour of the Capitol.

Electronic devices are allowed in the Capitol Building, but not in Senate and House Galleries. Students will be expected to hand over their battery operated electronic devices, cameras and video recording devices of any kind before entering. These items will be securely stored and then returned to visitors once their time in the galleries is concluded.

Student groups can expect to begin the tour at the Capitol Visitor Center, where they will see a brief film, “Out of Many, One” on establishing democracy. Then they will be escorted into the Capitol to see the Crypt, the Rotunda, and the National Statuary Hall. The student tour will end at the Capitol Visitor Center.

Visiting these significant buildings in Washington D.C. is a must for students of history, social studies and government. Seeing government representatives in action, in the environment where political, legal and social battles are fought will be a strong memory for years to come.

Learn more about custom tours of Washington D.C. which include a visit to the White House and Capitol Building. Email info@educationaltravelconsultants.com or visit Request a Quote.

Foreign Student Trips to Washington, D.C.: Winding Shopping, Dining & Sightseeing Together

The National Harbor is a shopping, dining and entertainment area on the shores of the Potomac River in MD, that overlook the D.C. skyline.
The National Harbor is a shopping, dining and entertainment area on the shores of the Potomac River in MD, overlooking the D.C. skyline.

by Howard Clemens

Washington, D.C. is the center of American political and social life and has been a hub for international visitors since the beginning. For foreign students traveling to Washington D.C. for the first time, it is almost always a thrilling experience. However, seeing everything that the area has to offer can take weeks. So the question for trip leaders may be – where is a student tour group to start? And which are the most important points of interest?

Many students from other countries want to shop in the U.S. They can obtain goods that may not be available in their country. Trip leaders need to know that there are several points of interest in the Washington D.C. area where the visitor can combine sightseeing, shopping and dining.

National Harbor: A Grand View of Washington D.C.
With its many shops and restaurants, The National Harbor is situated on the Maryland side of the Potomac River. It is a great place to kick off any excursion. Students can board The Capitol Wheel, a towering 180-foot wheel with enclosed cars, that offers sweeping views of the Washington Monument, the U.S. Capitol building, and the whole glittering panorama of the city itself. Groups can also cruise the Potomac (or even sail right to the National Mall & Memorial Parks) on the Alexandria-National Harbor Water Taxi, which operates day and night.

When it’s time to shop, choose from 150 retailers, with an outlet mall that appeals to everyone. There are also 30 different restaurants to choose from at the National Harbor, ranging from McDonald’s to a high end dining experience overlooking the Potomac.

Downtown Washington D.C. also has more than its share of fun theme restaurants: the Madhatter, which has been a city institution for more than 30 years, takes its name, its décor, and its inspiration from Alice in Wonderland. Or, have the student group sample some Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken. Here, patrons can sample maple-bacon, s’more, or passionfruit pastries. Astro Doughnuts is the kind of fun and quirky eatery that students are bound to love.

Shop, Dine & be Entertained in Georgetown
There’s also never any shortage of shopping, historical sights, and dining in D.C.’s legendary Georgetown neighborhood. Students can take the Gastronomic Georgetown Food Tour, an outing that will expose them to gourmet French and Italian cuisine, delectable desserts from D.C.’s best bakeries, and other capitol-region culinary delights.

Shop at the Smithsonian Museums or National Air and Space Museum
One-stop shopping (as in something-for-everyone) is also an apt way to describe D.C.’s Smithsonian Museums. Students can take in three centuries of American art at once, or explore “the final frontier” (as Star Trek calls it) at the National Air and Space Museum. At these prominent museums, the foreign visitor will find lots of interesting merchandise for purchase, from clothing to jewelry to interesting limited edition art and memorabilia. Students may also want to visit the magnificent Anderson House, a lavish 50-room mansion-museum located in the city’s historic Dupont Circle neighborhood. This is always a feast for the eyes, and a rare glimpse into what it’s like to live like American royalty.

When it comes to dining out, it doesn’t get any hipper than the Hard Rock Cafe, located near Washington D.C.’s bustling Chinatown district. Students can also visit the cafe’s “Rock ‘n Roll Embassy,” which is situated right next to the world-famous Ford’s Theater. Washington D.C. is also known for its lively dinner theater scene: at Medieval Madness at Renaissance Hall, students can enjoy a 4-course “knights of the round table” type feast while they take in a medieval-themed play, complete with sword fighting.

Finally, if foreign students are looking for really offbeat entertainment, they’ll find it at the Spy Museum, where they’ll learn how to decrypt secret audio conversations, escape from inescapable places, and engage in their own missions of espionage and intrigue. It is definitely an educational experience—and a great time that gives the term “interactive exhibit” a whole new meaning.

To sum it up, there’s no shortage of entertainment in the nation’s capitol, and for foreign students looking to get a taste of sightseeing, dining and entertainment all in one – there’s no place quite like Washington, D.C.

For more information about booking a tour your foreign students will never forget, email: info@educationaltravelconsultants.com, or visit the website at http://www.educationaltravelconsultants.com.

Student Trips to Washington D.C.: Social Studies and History Students Participate in Democratic Process

by Howard Clemens

A student tour of Washington D.C. often includes a visit the White House or Capitol Building. Putting a visit to these sensitive government buildings on the itinerary does take special planning.

For educators who want student groups to meet with representatives from their region or state, I recommend at least six months of advance planning or more.

Teach Students About Participatory Democracy
Social Studies and History teachers will take students through an exercise to illustrate exactly how a participatory democracy works. First, select a representative, either a Senator or Congressman from the group’s originating district. Be open to having the group meet with aides and/or staff if the representative is not available, to discuss important issues. Choose an experienced educational travel company to ensure a smooth visit and the optimal learning experience.

Learn More About How the U.S. Capitol & the Democratic System Really Works
What would students gain from meeting with their representative and/or their staff in the Capitol Building? A knowledge that within the democratic process, national and international as well as smaller, more personal issues can be discussed. Some smaller issues may even be resolved through participation in the democratic process. How would a teacher initiate such a meeting between students and representatives? A competent student tour consultant will be able to step a teacher through this process. The result of this exercise will be to engage students in the process of democracy and the relevance and importance of expressing their views.

Here are some things to consider, when organizing a student trip to Washington D.C. that includes a visit to a representative’s office in the Capitol Building.

1. A representative or senator must be selected to approach. The educational travel company will approach a staff member of the chosen representative and schedule a convenient time during the trip to visit the representative. The educational travel representative will conduct follow-up with the representative’s office in preparation for the visit.

2. Teachers will prepare the class before the trip so students will visit the representative with a clear objective, and be able to communicate this precisely in speech or writing.

3. If students have specific questions related to the topic at hand, they may ask the representative.

4. Be prepared to meet with an aide, should the representative be called into session, or is traveling on other official business.

5. Before or after initiating a conversation with the representative, take students on tour of the Capitol Building and watch Congress or the Senate floor in action. Have students observe the process of democratic discussions while representatives conduct the necessary business of this country.

6. After the trip is over and students return to the classroom, instruct them to write or give an oral presentation on their views of the democratic process. Ask them if they feel participatory democracy works.

Through this exercise, students will learn that democracy is not just about voting.

This real life lesson will teach students participatory democracy is what the founding fathers envisioned when they modeled the U.S. system on Grecian democracy from the classical period. At this time in Greek history, the Forum could be equated to the floor of the Capitol. The only difference was that Ancient Greece allowed anyone to step into the forum and voice an opinion to the public. Because of a large population – this sort of discussion is not entirely possible in the contemporary era. Instead Americans have representatives who argue on their behalf.

Having a ‘Forum’ or Capitol building is one way of bringing people together. This means the individual and groups must participate in governmental decision-making that affects them directly. Visiting a representative before he or she casts a deciding vote on a bill, budget item, military action or other concern is the way to influence political outcomes.

To learn more about planning a student trip to Washington D.C. which includes a visit to the Capitol and a pre-arranged meeting with a Congressional or Senatorial representative visit: http://www.educationaltravelconsultants.com.

Living History Makes Student Travel to Washington DC and Williamsburg Memorable

By Howard Clemens

Watching history come alive can be a great way to engage student travel groups when visiting the Washington D.C. area. Living history programs are character reenactments from Revolutionary, Colonial and Civil War eras of American history. Attending one will give historically accurate information garnered directly from texts. Living history programs challenge students to take a deeper look at the characters that created the historical accounts read in the classroom today.

Mount Vernon, a Treasure of American History, Inhabited by Characters
What sorts of characters become known throughout time? Leaders do. Mount Vernon is a well-preserved site of one of the favorite founding fathers, George Washington and his second wife, Mary. The Mount Vernon property is teeming with life. Also known as Ferry Farm, this estate is populated with many of the characters of living history, including the proprietors, George and Mary Washington themselves. Students can inhabit different parts of the estate and be exposed to different viewpoints, from viewing slave quarters, to the working farm and mill, to the interior of Mount Vernon itself.

Recreating Mount Vernon as a Working Colonial Estate
Today, students might refer to a property like Mount Vernon as ‘sustainable living.’ Everything needed to feed, clothe and house the many inhabitants and visitors of the estate was cultivated here. A tour of Mount Vernon that includes living history presentations could easily take half a day. Students groups will watch and listen as re-enactors make wool and refine locally grown flax into fiber and show how horses treading wheat to remove seeds. Student tour groups can listen in to a conversation of the overseer, the blacksmith, or George Washington himself. Living history makes learning more interactive and gives students an entirely new perspective of history.

Social Studies and history teachers may want to combine a tour of Washington D.C. and Mount Vernon with a few days in Williamsburg, Virginia. Give student groups the opportunity for total immersion in the 18th Century time period while they tour the former capital of Virginia with Living History around every corner.

The 18th Century Capital of the Colonies: Williamsburg, VA
Colonial Williamsburg is the largest living history museum in the world. In the 1920s, John D. Rockefeller invested in the languishing historical buildings in Williamsburg. He hired the best artisans and restoration experts to rebuild the town correctly. Today, the former 18th Century capital of Virginia is the perfect setting for students to experience living history.

Imagine walking the streets of Williamsburg and being immersed into the 18th Century style of living. Students will see many of Colonial Williamsburg’s character actors passing in the cobblestone streets in 18th Century garb. The old buildings all look the same as they did then – made of red brick and mortar. The shops include a blacksmith, candle maker, and a silversmith, among others. Inside some of the Colonial homes, the servants are busy with everyday tasks. Students will watch and listen and may ask questions. As they walk through, they will see servants working in the gardens or kitchens of an authentic Colonial home, clothed in the garb of the 18th Century and using implements and foods harvested there and common in that era.

For another type of interactive experience, group leaders may opt to prearrange a lunch or dinner at an authentic tavern in Colonial Williamsburg.

Each of the characters encountered on the streets of Williamsburg speaks in Colonial tongue and has a story to tell about their place in time. The Court House and the Armory have been restored to their former character.

Student groups may watch living history programs in the courthouse specially designed for learning about Colonial law in Virginia, through the eyes of those who were judged. Or, take a student group on an evening tour of the “Ghosts Among Us” or “Pirates Amongst Us” to stimulate their imagination and recollection of the way history unfolded for some.

Jamestown Settlement
Students will love visiting Jamestown Settlement – another full immersion into the 17th Century. Just down the road from Colonial Williamsburg, situated on the James River, is where the first colonists landed in 1607. Board the replicas of the three ships, see a Powhatan village as it was in the 17th Century, and enter the replica of James Fort, the original home of new settlers in this country. Students will hear character actors speak from a variety of perspectives, including: common sailors, maids, Indians, and even the King James I.

Learning about history through books and film can be a great foundation for a student trip to Washington D.C. and Williamsburg. Living history programs provide a more intense and focused investigation into history, one that engages the student and makes a definite mark upon memory. After experiencing the characters of history the memory is attached to a real place.

“The willing suspension of disbelief” is required for a full (and fun) immersion into Early American history. The character actors do an excellent job of bringing all of the props, setting and the stories to life. Teachers can augment the experiential learning by assigning follow-up writing exercises or creating quizzes for students to observe and answer questions while on tour.

For more information about a living history tour of Washington D.C., Mount Vernon and Williamsburg, request a quote.

A Focus on Student Art Tours of New York City and Washington D.C.

By Howard Clemens

Artists have been challenging us to see our world in new ways for centuries. Art teachers may want to consider bringing classes on tour of museums in New York City and Washington DC that house the most comprehensive collections of art in the United States. When organizing student tours of these cities it is important to consider these museums. It is no exaggeration to say that lives can be changed for the better by visiting such collections of art. For many students, this may be their only visit to a museum in a large U.S. city. Other students may decide to live in a large city and experience the cultural life firsthand.

The Guggenheim Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Museum of Modern Art are the three highlighted museums for New York City. The Phillips Collection, the National Portrait Gallery, and the Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden are recommended stops on the itinerary for Washington DC.

On Fifth Avenue in New York City the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is one of the most recognizable and iconic buildings. The Guggenheim Museum was designed by the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. When planning your class trip to New York City, please look at the museum’s online events calendar. Not only are there daily tours of “Art in the Round” but also there are films, and often in-depth discussions on pieces in the collection and even on the building itself. While the Guggenheim houses the private collections of art there are always new acquisitions on view. Check the timing of a student trip and coordinate attendance of special shows at the Guggenheim with a student travel company representative.

Not far from the Guggenheim is the Metropolitan Museum of Art, boasting one of the largest, most eclectic collections of art in the world. This world-class structure houses paintings, arms and armor, furnishings, sculpture and design from every imaginable worldwide location. This is an enormous museum, so please be sure to see their website to plan your visit with specific concentrations on the permanent collection as well as to view current and upcoming traveling exhibitions.

The Museum of Modern Art, known the world over as MoMA, has the most important collection of some of the most astonishing talent the world has ever seen. The permanent collection contains some of the most sought after art by Matisse, Van Gogh, Balla, Rothko, Warhol and others. One of the most popular exhibitions which is on view until January, 2016 is called, “This Is for Everyone: Design Experiments for the Common Good.” The future of design and the technology that is creating the road to that future are highlighted in this strange and beautiful exhibition.

In the heart of Washington D.C., student travel groups may visit the National Gallery of Art and the famous Phillips Collection, as well as the National Portrait Gallery and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

The National Gallery of Art features painting, sculptures, prints, drawings and decorative arts from the Renaissance to the present day. The Photographic collection dates from 1839. On a pleasant day, student tour groups can wander through the Sculpture Garden. Here students can see art from around the world and the work of artists who either studied or taught at the Corcoran College of Art and Design and went on to distinguish themselves. A Media Arts section is also part of the museum, representing contemporary artists that work in digital media.

Art lovers from around the world travel to the Phillips Collection each year to see the Mark Rothko Room, and other famous paintings like Renoir’s classic “Boating Party.” Georgia O’Keefe, Man Ray and other artists are part of the permanent collection. Paul Klee fans know about the large number of his paintings at the Phillips, and visit often. The museum’s website has comprehensive educational resources for much of the catalog. For instance Jacob Lawrence’s “The Migration Series” is featured on the website. This series of sixty paintings depicts the migration of African Americans from the South to the North in the early twentieth century.

The National Portrait Gallery houses a complete collection of original portraits of the presidents of the United States. Besides presidents, the gallery holds paintings of other great American leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks. Pop culture Hollywood icons Marilyn Monroe and Woody Allen share space with musical giants like George and Ira Gershwin. A visit to the National Portrait Gallery is as much about art as it is history. There are special exhibits detailing trends in America as well as struggles. See portraits of activists for labor rights, civil rights, and Native American activist Leonard Crow Dog, among many other famous Americans.

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden has a staff dedicated to a deep understanding of art and artist. The museum mission includes the statement, “Good art should elicit a response of ‘Huh? Wow!’ as opposed to ‘Wow! Huh?’” Paintings by Francis Bacon and Joan Mitchell are part of this historic collection. The Sculpture Garden houses some of the most innovative and famous sculptors from around the world, including Brancusi, Rodin, Miro and others. Student tour groups are encouraged to visit the Hirshhorn and learn more with ARTLAB+ and special comprehensive class tours of the collections.

These museums house some of the great treasures of the United States, and visiting them with art classes is part of seeing art as a unique educational tool and framework for not only historical record, but also as a means to forge a better future for humanity and the planet. Artists are the best collaborators a teacher can have. Consider art the classroom itself. Take student groups on tour of these museums to expand their knowledge of art throughout the ages.

For more information about student art tours of New York City, Washington D.C. and other U.S. destinations, visit http://www.educatioanltravelconsultants.com.

Student Travel Groups Encounter the Ghosts of Arlington, Virginia While Visiting Washington D.C. Area

By Howard Clemens
No student trip to Washington D.C. is complete without a stop in Arlington, Virginia. Arlington is the second largest city of the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. Situated on the southern bank of the Potomac River, a stunning view of the D.C. skyline can be seen from all vantage points. While in Arlington, be sure to also visit The Pentagon Memorial, The Marine Corps Memorial and The United States Air Force Memorial. Student groups will learn a great deal about the history of the military in Arlington. In the evening, groups can look forward to seeing the hair-raising Arlington Ghost Tour, and learning about history from a different perspective.

 
Who said Virginia was for lovers? Actually, Virginia is for ghosts. Virginia is the most haunted state in America. No city in Virginia could be more haunted than Arlington, home of Arlington National Cemetery. The heroes of the United States are resting here, or according to the ghost hunters and tour guides – some of the ghosts of America’s past are not at rest at all.

Famous Ghosts Haunt Arlington

Arlington National Cemetery is one of the most haunted sites in the country. This famous cemetery is the second to the largest burial ground in the United States. It is home to the graves of many American war heroes and two U.S. presidents (John F. Kennedy and William Howard Taft). Over 300,000 are buried on these green, rolling hills. Over 7,000 funerals occur here per year, adding many new apparitions with each passing season. On average, there are 28 funerals per day at Arlington National Cemetery. This is also the only cemetery where servicemen from every war in U.S. history are buried. Many apparitions of these departed souls have been spotted roaming the cemetery at night.

arlington national cemetery
The Custis Lee Mansion at Arlington National Cemetery was built in the early 1800s.

The Custis-Lee Arlington Mansion and Robert E. Lee Memorial is a haunted spot located within the cemetery. This Greek-revival style mansion was the last resting place for the Union War dead. Before this, it was the pre-war home of Robert E. and Mary Lee. Several ghosts have been spotted here, including the spirit of Mary Custis Lee herself.

 
Dedicated to American service members who died without their remains being identified, The Tomb of the Unknowns is famous for its frequent changing of the guard ceremony. It is perhaps even more famous for its high level of paranormal activity.

Visit the Kennedy Gravesites at Arlington National Cemetery

A trip to Arlington Cemetery wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Kennedy Gravesites. After President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, his widow Jacqueline decided her husband should be buried in a very public place, famously explaining, “he belongs to the people.” Thus, he was buried in Arlington Cemetery, on a slope below the Lee Arlington House. On the day of the funeral, Mrs. Kennedy lighted the Eternal Flame, which continues to burn at the head of the grave, serving as a beautiful reminder of the President’s life and lasting contributions to our country. The gravesites of the President’s esteemed brothers, Robert and Ted, are nearby, decorated with simple white wooden crosses.

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Old Post Chapel is adjacent to Arlington National Cemetery and the site of many ghost sightings.

Ghost Tales from the Old Post Chapel

Across the street from the cemetery is perhaps the most haunted Arlington site of them all, Old Post Chapel. Once used as a mourning room, so much paranormal activity has been spotted here that students will experience a ghostly chill. Constant ghostly voices and footsteps have been reported at the chapel. Locked doors have been known to swing open without any known help. Cabinet drawers swing open to 90 degrees. Loud organ music has been said to play in the Chapel at odd hours of the night. The Chapel is also home to many known apparitions. There is a small boy often seen running through the Chapel – but as soon as he faintly appears, he just as quickly vanishes. Some have heard a woman wailing in the front of the Chapel while others have seen a beautiful dark-haired Spanish lady who disappears the moment she realizes she’s being watched.

Entertainment and Dining Near Arlington

The perfect complement to one of our exciting, ghoulish Ghost Tours is a nice meal in Arlington. Arlington has a sophisticated restaurant district including well-reviewed restaurants such as Liberty Tavern, The Green Pig Bistro and Boulevard Wood Grill. For large student groups, advanced reservations are required and an educational travel company can help make these arrangements. Student groups visiting Washington D.C. also love to visit the Hard Rock Café. Looking for fun entertainment and a meal? In nearby Old Town Alexandria Medieval Madness is a great way to spend an evening. For more information on combining a student tour of Washington D.C. with a ghost tour of Arlington visit http://www.educationaltravelconsultants.com.

Museum of Modern Art in NYC Offers Student Travel Groups Sophisticated Look at International Art

By Howard Clemens

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MOMA is a popular point on the itinerary for student travel groups in NYC.

What do Henri Matisse, Diego Rivera and Georgia O’Keeffe have in common? Their works can be found in the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York City. MOMA’s permanent collection of international art is staggering in its enormity. Any student of art will want to visit this museum at some point. No student trip to New York City is really complete without a visit to MOMA. I recommend student travel groups interested in visiting MOMA to spend at least a half day touring this world famous museum.

MOMA’s Permanent Collection Online – A Great Teaching Tool

For those educators who want to preview the work of well known artists before a student trip to NYC, most pieces in the permanent collection are viewable online. This is a wonderful way to familiarize students with the work of artists prior to a class trip to New York City. The permanent collection is in alphabetical order and works owned by MOMA are displayed in image format, making a preliminary study of artists in the collection easy and interesting.

Matisse's "Interior With a Young Girl" is a great example of his work.
Matisse’s “Interior With a Young Girl” is a great example of his work.

Henri Matisse: the Cut-Outs

Matisse is a French artist whose interest in drawing and painting the nude set him apart from his contemporaries early on. MOMA owns an extensive collection of Matisse’s work. Matisse’s last body of work, made in the late 1940s, is composed of cut-outs. He used paint, paper and scissors as his primary mediums to construct colorful and playful works of art. In this MOMA show, which will be on exhibit until February 8, 2015, students will see 100 cut outs (both small and large scale) along with related drawings, prints, illustrated books, stained glass and textiles. Running concurrently with this exhibition is MOMA’s restoration and exhibition of Matisse’s “The Swimming Pool” a wall-sized cut out once displayed in Matisse’s own dining room.

The Paris of Toulouse-Lautrec: Prints and Posters

This exhibition displays the art, social life and talent of one of the most famous Parisian painters of the late 18th Century: Toulouse-Lautrec. His work documents the Belle-Epoch era in Paris from 1864-1901. The show will be on exhibit until March 22, 2015.

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“Girl With Tulips” by Henri Matisse.

It includes posters Lautrec made for actual theatrical productions in Paris, lithographs, printed materials, illustrated books and 100 examples of Lautrec’s best work. For student travel groups headed to NYC in late fall 2014 or early spring 2015, stop by the Bauhaus Staircase to participate in the Interactive Lounge. Here, students learn more about the entertainment, dining and personal spaces that inspired Lautrec’s work.

Painting and Sculpture I & II

These exhibition rooms are designed to cover specific eras in art history, by offering a comprehensive look at it, while showcasing works of artists from MOMA’s permanent collection. Painting and Sculpture I covers the period from 1880-1940; Painting and Sculpture II surveys 1940-1980. Both exhibits give an overview of stylistic movements, artists and themed works that exemplify these periods. Students walk away with a broader understanding of the way artists across the globe impact a time period by stimulating cultural conversations.

Teach Art, English and History on a Student Tour of MOMA

While Art teachers may find it easier to develop a customized tour of MOMA, History and English teachers will want to complement a study of a certain period in history or literature with an examination of art of the same period. It is possible to structure a tour geared towards these areas of study at MOMA, mainly because of the way exhibitions are organized. Teachers will want to take a look at MOMA’s permanent and rotating exhibitions prior to planning a tour, to focus the educational experience.

Consult with an educational travel company to create the perfect student tour of MOMA to fit curricular needs. For more information about student travel itineraries to New York City, visit http://www.educationaltravelconsultants.com.

Visiting the New 911 Memorial and Museum In New York City

Building a memorial to commemorate 3,000 lives lost on 911 was no small enterprise, but architects Michael Ara, Daniel Libeskind, and Peter Walker have constructed a fitting tribute.  May 21, 2014 is the first day the 911 Memorial is open to the public. Student travel groups heading to New York City can now walk freely among the memorials and grounds where the World Trade Towers once stood.

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The 911 Memorial will be open to the public May 21, 2014.

The memorial has twin reflecting pools, each an acre in size, centered by the largest manmade waterfalls in all of North America.  The names of all the victims of the 2001 and 1993 World Trade Center attacks are inscribed into bronze along the lip of the memorial pools.  This large undertaking is meant as a reminder of the largest loss of life from a foreign invasion in United States history.  More than 400 trees were chosen and planted to convey a sense of physical regrowth and spiritual renewal at the site.

All three award-winning architects are well known for their work on skyscrapers in Hong Kong, and parks and museums in Australia and the United States.  Their most haunting achievement is the placements of names for the 911 Memorial, which are bronze stenciling hovering over the water.  This is designed so paper can be pressed against a name for visitors as well as family and friends of the victims to make their own memorial rubbings.  At night,  light shines up through each name, a powerful reminder of those who were lost.

In May 2014, there was a six-day dedication period before the 911 Memorial was opened to the public. During this period it was only accessible to family and friends of the victims of 911 as well as the many rescue and recovery workers.  New York’s interviewed 911 Memorial Museum president Joe Daniels, who said, “It will be a tremendous privilege to walk the completed 911 Memorial Museum for the first time with those who are a part of this defining period of our nation’s history.”

When planning a student trip to New York City, trip leaders may want to consider booking a guided tour of the memorial.  Memorial tours are walking tours provided by 911 survivors, recovery workers, lower Manhattan business owners and residents.  Sometimes, 911 Memorial tours are even given by the victims’ family members.  The personal stories mix with world news in a way that is a completely unique experience when students experience a guided tour of the memorial site.

When visiting the 911 Memorial and Museum website you can view EarthCam webcams of the site.  This is the perfect way to engage students ahead of time.  In the museum you will have the opportunity to explore the topic with interactive digital displays of the 911 timeline.  There is a separate page on the Memorial website specifically for teachers to prepare lesson plans, including foundational lessons, as well as a breakdown for different age groups.  You can see these at this link: https://www.911memorial.org/lesson-plans.  There are also teaching guides at this site, as well as tips on talking to children about 911 and webcasts for classroom visits and lessons.

While visiting the 911 Memorial, President Obama remarked, “That’s beautiful.”  The New York Times said former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani would be the best person to take part in the opening ceremonies. So Giuliani was asked to introduce speakers that would include families of victims as well as many others who contributed to the project – such as the ground zero ironworker who built a Star of David from part of the wreckage.

Few class trips will have students’ minds more captivated and interested than a visit to the 911 Memorial and Museum.  It is strongly suggested that student tours to the museum (and 911 Memorial) are booked well in advance to reserve space and to schedule a walking tour.  Tours will cover the exact grounds where history was made and have forever changed aspects of daily living in the United States and globally.