Seeing historic sights in person can bring history to life for students, help put the information into context for them, and spark their interest for further study. One of the important lessons students learn is that the United States of America is a nation of immigrants.
A great way to teach immigration is to take students on an educational field trip to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty as part of a student trip to New York City.
There are a variety of ways for students to tour the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Guided tours with a park ranger are available as are audio tours. Both the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island offer a variety of special programs for a wide range of grades and students. Teachers can also request a free curriculum guide or a traveling trunk or “Park in a Pack” curriculum kit packed full of learning activities and teaching aids. For more information about the Park in a Pack and other curriculum materials go to www.nps.gov/stli/forteachers/ or www.nps.gov/elis/forteachers/.
The Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island offers as many opportunities for teaching American history as it does views of New York City.
A gift from the French in 1886, the Statue of Liberty is one of the most symbolic monuments in America. It has been under the administration of the National Park Service since 1933(Ellis Island is part of the same park).
Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi designed and created the statue and Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel built the interior framework of iron and steel. The statue, situated within the star-shaped walls of Fort Wood, stands on top of a granite pedestal.
The symbols incorporated into the statue make great discussion points as student tour groups learn about the history of the monument and America as well as the various meanings the Statue of Liberty has to people around the world.
Student Travel Groups Tour the Statue of Liberty
During a visit to Liberty Island and the Stature of Liberty, student groups on educational field trips with monument passes are able to tour the museum, areas of Fort Wood, the promenade, and take in the view from the pedestal observation deck.
Although the crown and the statue’s structure have been closed to the public since 2001, a glass ceiling allows student groups to view the magnificent engineering within the statue.
Highlights of a Student Tour of the Statue of Liberty
The museum, located within the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, includes several exhibits incorporating artifacts, photographs, prints, videos, drawings, oral histories, full-scale replicas, and even cartoons to educate student tour groups about history of the statue and its symbolism. Student groups come face-to-face with the original torch, replaced in 1984, from the lobby floor or the second floor balcony.
Ellis Island was the first federal immigration station. Some 12 million immigrants passed through it between 1892 and 1954. Now it is a physical reminder of these events. It is also a monument to all who came to America in search of a new life. Educational travel groups can tie their visit to a curriculum about immigration, the Industrial Revolution, and the War of 1812 when Ellis Island was home to Fort Gibson.
Touring Ellis Island with a Student Group
The Main Building, dating from 1900, has been restored and is open to the public as the Ellis Island Immigration Museum. The Ellis Island Immigration Museum is an excellent stop on any educational field trip to New York City.
The museum occupies more than 40,000 square feet on three floors in the Main Building. The French Renaissance structure designed by Boring and Tilton is as much an exhibit as the ones inside. The building was restored to its 1918-1924 appearance in the 1980s.
Highlights of the Ellis Island Immigration Museum
The American Immigrant Wall of Honor is a remembrance of all immigrants regardless of where they came from, when they arrived, or through which port they entered. Over 700,000 names are already inscribed on the Wall. Students can look for their family name on the Wall.
Students can follow in the footsteps of the brave immigrants by touring the many rooms in the building. A variety of exhibits chronicle the history of Ellis Island, 400 years of immigration, and personalize the immigrant story with clothing, personal objects, photographs, papers, interactive displays, videos, and oral histories. All of this make Ellis Island a valuable and memorable learning experience for any student travel trip. Visit the New York City page for more details on student travel tours of the big apple.
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