Tag Archives: school trips washington d.c.

Highlights of the Smithsonian Museum for Student Travel Groups Visiting D.C.

Student travel groups headed to Washington D.C. have many different options for their itinerary.  In addition to the Capitol and the White House, student group leaders may also want to schedule time at the Smithsonian Museum.

Some of the Smithsonian Museums most popular with student travel groups are the National Zoo, the National Museum of  Natural History and the National Portrait Gallery.  Admission to the Smithsonian Museums is free. If there is enough advance planning, student travel groups can even take part in hands on educational programs.

The National Zoo in Washington D.C. is a popular point of interest for student travel groups - who want to see the Panda exhibit.

National Zoo
Like all of the National Museums, the National Zoo is free.  Students will see animals from A to Z, including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and invertebrates.  In the Great Ape House students will see a tribe of western lowland gorillas, their youngest family member is Kibibi who was born in 2009.  Gibbons, monkeys, and lemurs are also in the ape house where the golden lion tamarins are always a popular spectacle.  Besides the zoo’s collection, it is also the home of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) where animals are studied for conservation, evolutionary genetics, and other sciences, making it an invaluable tool for many to access.  The Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center is part of the SCBI, dedicated to studying the migration of many species of birds for the sake of protecting their flight paths and habitats.  One of the other most popular exhibits is the pandas. With the birth of the newborn Bao Bao, the pandas are more popular than ever with all visitors.

The National Museum of Natural History
The National Museum of Natural History holds the distinction of being the largest museum in the world.  Student tour groups can see the live butterfly pavilion with swallowtail and monarch butterflies waking from their chrysalises.  T-Rex, triceratops and other dinosaur bones fill the gallery preserving the ancient fossil records.  The Hope Diamond, the world’s largest blue diamond is on display.  A 24-foot giant squid is also on permanent display.  This museum is one of the largest science classrooms in the world, and their education department is dedicated to inspiring us all to understand the natural world and to be better stewards of our fragile ecosystems on our planet.  The Insect Zoo is also a must-see as part of your visit, complete with a volunteer tarantula feeding.  As entomologist Thomas Eisner says, “Insects won’t inherit the Earth—they own it now.”  Students may touch, hold and ask questions about the many-legged creatures crawling around the Insect Zoo.  There are an estimated 126 million items in the museum, both in laboratory archives and exhibition halls.  This collection rivals any the world has ever seen with specimens of minerals, plants, fish, insects, birds, mammals and reptiles; it’s one of the most exciting educational tours you can take.

The National Portrait Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery is the only place outside the White House to have a complete collection of portraits of U.S. presidents. The education department uses art and history to introduce visitors to the galleries.  In the Gallery, students may see performances from musicians, actors and other artists who bring the collection to life.  There are also documentary films about the lives of significant Americans and their achievements that made them great.

Besides U.S. presidents, another permanent exhibition is called “American Origins, 1600—1900.”  There are 17 galleries devoted to a chronological journey of the first contact with Native Americans to the very beginning of the 20th century.  Three of the galleries in this exhibit are devoted to the Civil War, presenting a careful lens on the years of that bloodiest American war.  The museum’s curators work hard to collect and display portraits of diverse and respected men and women who have left an indelible mark on U.S. history and our rich and ever growing culture.  Other highlight portraits include Martin Luther King Jr., George Gershwin, Rosa Parks, Julia Child, Babe Ruth, Marry Cassatt, Marilyn Monroe and many others.  The National Portrait Gallery is a must for any serious school group tour in the Washington D.C. metro area.

There are other Smithsonian Museums that are popular with student tour groups, such as the National Air and Space Museum. When it comes to planning a visit to Washington D.C. there are so many choices. Teachers and group leaders tend to focus the itinerary on curricular objectives.   Learn more about a putting together a student tour of Washington D.C., request a qu0te online by filling out a brief inquiry.

Library of Congress: an Essential Part of Student Trips to Washington D.C.

by Howard Clemens

A student trip to Washington D.C. would be incomplete without a tour of the greatest library on Earth. The Library of Congress in Washington DC first opened its doors in 1800. Ever since then the library has been working hard to serve the Congress and the American people, not only as an invaluable library for the Congress, but to further the creativity of the nation. Besides providing a congressional research service, the library also hosts the American Folklife Center, the American Memory project, the Center for the Book, as well as the Poet Laureate.

When the British attempted to destroy the library in 1814 by burning the capitol and pillaging the thousands of bookshelves, retired president Thomas Jefferson offered his own personal library as replacement. Jefferson was said to have the finest library in the United States at the time, and in 1815 congress accepted his nearly 6,500 books. History, philosophy, literature, and fine arts books made up the Jefferson collection. The Jefferson Building was built after ratifying all published materials should have two copies sent to the library.

Main Reading Room, Library of Congress, Jefferson Building, Washington D.C.

Exhibitions at the Library of Congress

Exhibitions currently running include The Civil War in America. There are 200 unique items on display, including many on display for the first time. Teachers can encourage students to read and comment on an ongoing blog of Civil War Voices available on the Library of Congress website. Also newly on display is Abel Buell’s map of the United States. There were only seven copies made in 1784 of the newly independent nation, having broken away from England. There is a copy of the original map on display at the library, not to be missed! There is also a copy of the first draft of the Gettysburg Address on display, something everyone will want to see and talk about!

History of U.S. Science, Technology and Business in Library of Congress

There is a remarkable collection of prints, photos and recordings on American science, technology and business, from extremely rare paintings of birds by John James Audubon to Sigmund Freud’s letters. There is also an exhibit on the 100th birthday of the Harley Davidson motorcycle, and the inventions of the telephone and dreams of flight becoming a reality. The establishment of Yosemite National Park and other land conservation initiatives are also part of the collection, including details on the evolution of the conservation movement from 1850 to 1920.

Besides the amazing array of American scientific and historical maps, letters, photos and objects on display, there is also a very large collection documenting the performing arts including theater, music and dance at the library. Photographs, music scores and recordings are housed at the library, including American Yiddish sheet music currently on exhibition from the Irene Heskes collection. Much of this collection originates from the Lower East Side and Bowery of New York City from 1880 to the mid twentieth century.

Student Travel To DC: Viewing America in Retrospect

Another popular exhibit is “100 Years Ago Today,” where newspapers from 100 years ago are displayed from the very date of the student group’s visit. For instance student groups can view papers like The Washington Herald, The Amarillo Daily News, and The Tombstone Epitaph. It is fascinating to see what was going on exactly a century ago when visiting the Library of Congress. A century of newspapers from every corner of the United States are on display, such as The Salt Lake Tribune and the Tulsa Daily World.

From the history of advertising to American literature and culture – many subjects can be explored at the Library of Congress, an essential stop on any student tour of Washington DC. Other topics for social studies and history students include: wars, religions, immigration documents and the great American Expansion. The history of Civil Rights, Women’s Rights, and the history of Native Americans can be found, read, studied, and explored at Library of Congress, too. From little towns to big cities, the United States has done one of the best jobs the world has ever seen in documenting a nation’s history and culture.

Learn more about student travel to Washington D.C. visit http://www.educationaltravelconsultants.com.

Smithsonian Will Open National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall

by Howard Clemens

The new National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) will open on the National Mall in D.C. in 2015

A new National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), a branch of the Smithsonian, is under construction in a prominent location near the Washington Monument in Washington D.C.

Doors of the new museum are scheduled to open in 2015. Until then, school groups on trips to D.C. can see the “Changing America” exhibition across the street at the National Museum of American History. This new exhibit looks at the century of hard work between the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation and the 1963 March on Washington. Students studying the anti slavery and civil rights movements will find this directly related to their curriculum. A short visit to this exhibit will be a great way to learn about some of the people and events that defined these eras in American history.

Architects Philip Freelon and David Adjaye are seeing their dream building come together right on the Mall in Washington D.C. There have been generous donations from many groups and individuals, including Oprah Winfrey – who recently gave the NMAAHC a much-needed twelve million dollar donation for their museum construction project. This will be an institution dedicated to helping all Americans see the great importance of African American history to the nation as a whole. Equally as important, the NMAAHC will make clear how the stories and histories of African Americans helped shape the struggles for freedom around the world.

The NMAAHC website has detailed information about the progress of the construction of the NMAAHC with several short documentary films, one of which shows a 3D digital model of the proposed final structure.

An interior rendition of the NMAAHC when it opens in 2015.

The NMAAHC project is innovative because of its approach to using the Web to gather archival material. Students and teachers can check the website for information on how to help preserve African American artifacts, from furniture to personal items to books. There are programs available for preserving photographs, paper documents, and also clothing and textiles. In the classroom, students can view video interviews with such prominent African American citizens as United States District Court judge Matthew J. Perry Jr. and Lawrence Guyot.

For those student travel groups and group leaders who are curious to see the project unfolding, The NMAAHC website has a construction camera with an ongoing series of snapshots of up-to-date footage of the Museum’s construction. The Washington Monument is right next door to the site of the future NMAAHC – within walking distance.

Students interested in pursuing a career in Museum work may want to explore the many internship jobs available with the NMAAHC. There are currently internship projects with the cataloging department, the collection preservation department, as well as curatorial, education and exhibition display. Students in the classroom can also be part of bringing together the many facets of this museum by helping to find and catalogue archival materials.

Some of the highlights of the museum include historical documents such as texts and photos and even implements such as shackles used during the dark age of American slavery. There are galleries also devoted to music and performing arts, as well as visual art by and about African Americans including the Harlem Renaissance through the civil rights movement of the 1960s, as well as contemporary African American artists of today.

The website gives visitors insight into upcoming exhibits for the NMAAHC. Samples of the Black Fashion Museum Collection, originally founded in 1979 by Lois K. Alexander Lane are available on the website. This collection includes bonnets worn by slaves as well as opera capes. There are also beautiful gowns made by African American fashion designer Ann Lowe, whose patrons included the Vanderbilts, the Rockefellers, the Duponts, and also former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy.

Students studying slavery in the United States will also be interested in viewing the Harriet Tubman Collection, dedicated to the magnificent dedication of the woman who herself ran away from slavery as a young girl in the early 1800s. There are nearly 100 artifacts belonging to Harriet Tubman that will be on display, and some of those are currently shown in photographs on the NMAAHC website. Tubman’s fearless hard work on the Underground Railroad changed the lives of hundreds of people. She and others help make this one of the most extraordinary museum experiences on the Mall in Washington D.C.

Student trips headed to Washington D.C. will definitely want to plan a visit to the website prior to their visit – and schedule an actual visit to the museum itself in 2015. In the meantime, seeing the National Museum of American History “Changing America” exhibit is highly recommended. Learn more about black history tours of Atlanta, Baltimore and Washington D.C. These student tours are designed to create a broader understanding of the history of slavery, emancipation and civil rights in the United States.

Learn more about black history tours of Washington D.C., designed for students studying the anti-slavery movement of the 19th Century and the Civil Rights movement of the 20th Century.

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.

An Educational Tour of Washington D.C. Designed for Junior ROTC or Social Studies Students

Washington D.C. has a great deal to offer for student tours of the city and surrounding area. In fact, there are so many different choices, that student travel trip coordinators might just become overwhelmed. Choosing a qualified and experienced student travel company can certainly help focus a trip and align it with curricular objectives.

Over the years I have developed many different types of trips that tie into a variety of curriculums such as art, history, government, performance tours, science, and more. I have designed a school trip for middle school students and JROTC students studying major U.S. conflicts of the 20th Century.  This educational tour helps students take a closer look at the Vietnam and Korean Wars as well as World War II.  Student travel groups visit sites in Washington D.C. which are directly related to these conflicts. I have organized these tours around the themes of sacrifice and conflict.

Depending upon time allowance, student groups may also plan to visit the main destinations for any educational tour of Washington D.C. The selection of sites might also include a visit to the White House, Capitol Building, Smithsonian Museum, and popular choices for dining, entertainment, and shopping.

Following are my suggestions for destinations for Social Studies and or JROTC students who are studying modern wars:

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

The Vietnam conflict was one of the most politicized events of the 20th Century.  Students studying it will want to visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. The names of soldiers who died in this conflict are embedded in the wall for all to remember.  On any given day, student groups may see families and loved ones of fallen soldiers honoring their loss with flowers, vigils, personal memorabilia, and more.  Groups visiting the wall may want to opt for the ranger guided interpretive tour, where stories about individual soldiers and units are recounted, as well as a brief history of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Korean War Veterans Memorial

The Korean War Veterans Memorial was opened to the public in 1995 and dedicated by President Bill Clinton and President Kim Young Sam.  Nearby the wall of pictures and names, there are 19 stainless steel statues of soldiers, representing all four branches of the military and from diverse backgrounds. The statues of infantryman and medical personnel appear to be walking in the same proximity as the wall and even emerge from the nearby woods.   The mural displays 2,400 photographs from the Korean War obtained from the National Archives.  Visiting the Korean War Veterans Memorial, students gain a more in depth perspective of this War and its impact on Korean and American life.

Holocaust Museum

The Holocaust Museum is a must see for anyone studying World War II.  It details the systematic, bureaucratic killing of Jews, Russians, Poles, Communists, homosexuals, disabled people and others who were targeted by the Nazi regime in the 1930s and 1940s in Europe.  Students will learn about the Holocaust by viewing historical film footage, artifacts, photographs, and listening to stories recorded by survivors and witnesses. Much of the material in this museum is difficult to contemplate. The events of the holocaust have been well-documented in history books, biographies, fiction and non-fiction. Various texts can be studied alongside a visit to the Museum.   Yet there is really no substitute for the up-close, visual viewpoint provided by the Holocaust Museum which gives a student an even broader perspective and context in which to study this atrocity.

Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery is just outside of Washington D.C. in the Northern Virginia town of Arlington, and is well worth the visit. These burial grounds are the place where many prominent American explorers, judges and historical figures are buried, right alongside of the common soldier who fought for his or her country and died for freedom.  The tomb of the Unknown Soldier is at Arlington and students may observe it being guarded closely by a professional soldier. With enough advance planning, student travel group coordinators may request that their visit to Arlington National Cemetery coincide with a formal wreath laying ceremony, a solemn and colorful tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

Smithsonian Museum

The Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C. has many facets.  Student groups who are looking to gain a full understanding of American conflicts in the 20th Century will want to schedule some time at the National Museum of American History.  School trips visiting this Museum will find additional information, photographs, relics, films, and stories about the U.S. conflicts mentioned above. The National Museum of American History will expand upon knowledge gathered at all of the sites visited.  This Museum also offers some exceptional curricular materials that can be utilized in the classroom when prepping students to study these wars and make a visit to our nations capitol.

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