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A Student Trip to California With an Eco Tour Focus

Students groups studying science, biology, ecology and other related topics may want to consider planning an eco tour of California. This tour would encompass some of the most well known national forests in the United States.  Students would be able to see the California Redwoods up close and visit sites relevant to marine science.  A well-rounded trip might also include a visit to San Francisco, where there are natural areas to explore nearby and within the city limits.

Eco trips are a great opportunity for active learning about the natural world.  Visiting some of California’s natural treasures will impress upon students the importance of preserving these and other areas in the U.S. Following are some suggested itinerary stops for an eco tour of California, along with brief descriptions of what each place has to offer.

Sequoia National Park
Located in the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains, Sequoia National Park offers the ecology or science student a rare look at some of the largest mountain ranges in the West (rising to heights of 12,000 feet or greater) and some of the oldest and most well- preserved sequoia redwood trees.  Up until the late 1700s and early 1800s Sequoia National Park was inhabited by two different tribes of native Americans:  The Monache and Yokuts.  Students exploring the park will learn about their history and see their artifacts. In the late 1700s the Spanish explored the region. Later came hunters, trappers, loggers and miners. By 1890 this region became Sequoia National Park. Today it is called Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks – both in the same vicinity of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  In addition to a rich history and some very special trees, the Sequoia National Park is also an excellent site for the study of geology with some unique features of the mountains, canyons and waterways.

Yosemite National Park
The famous naturalist John Muir was one of the main forces behind the creation of Yosemite National Park. Yosemite is approximately 200 miles from San Francisco and just over 300 miles from Los Angeles.  The park encompasses 1,169 square miles and is also home to many larger than life redwood trees.  Almost 95% of the park is designated as wilderness – making it a wonderful location for the study of ecology, biology, geology and other scientific subjects.  The park has many dramatic waterfalls, with Yosemite Falls being the tallest in North America at a height of 2,425 feet.   The highest peak in Yosemite is Mount Lyell at 13,114 feet; the most well-known is Half Dome, at 8,842 feet — this famous peak was cut in half by a glacier. The park offers a great deal of bio- diversity with many different plant and animal species, some which are unique to the park itself.

Cowell Redwoods State Park
At this California State Park, students can take a self-guided nature path tour to become familiar with the flora and fauna in the area. Here students will experience the wonder and magnificence of walking in old growth woods.  There are a variety of trees in the Cowell forest that have never been cut. Some of the trees in this park are 1400-1800 years old. These may include Redwoods and Douglas fir, Mandrone, Oak and Ponderosa pines.  The tallest tree in the state park is 285 feet and approximately 16 feet wide. Students will see the San Lorenzo River and visit the nature center and bookstore to learn more about the trees they see.

Monterey Bay Aquarium

A visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium offers students the chance to see the marine life that lives and feeds near the California coastline up close.  Some of the sea creatures that inhabit the aquarium include octopus, sea otters, pink flamingos and other wading birds and penguins. A visit to the Aviary offers a look at birds and animals that live near the ocean’s edge, including:  the leopard shark, sand crab, bat ray, bay ghost shrimp, North American plovers and red phalarope.  For student trips designed for seeking a more interactive adventure, group leaders can plan a sailing trip or surface scuba diving adventure with the Aquarium dive staff in the Great Tide Pool.

Morro Bay State Park

Students can further explore species that live on the California coast by taking a glimpse at marine life in the Morro Bay and lagoon.  The group can visit the Morro Bay State Park Museum and learn about the cultural history of the Morro Bay area, Native American settlements that once existed there and the unique geology of the bay. Groups can visit the saltwater marsh where they will have the opportunity to watch native birds in their natural habitat.  Another suggested stop near Morro Bay is the Museum of Natural History where they can opt to take a nature walk, view the exhibits, and learn about the Chumash and how they used native plants in their diets and daily lives.  The Museum of Natural history tour is recommended because it will further deepen students’ knowledge of the area.

If student groups have time in their schedule and wish to visit an urban area, San Francisco offers Twin Peaks and Fort Point National Historic Site, and other eco tour options. They can also visit well-known sites, such as the downtown district, Chinatown, Cannery Row and other places.

Eco tours are a rewarding experience for both teacher and student, because this type of trip is a great complement to learning through reading.  Teachers interested in advance preparation for trips can visit the websites of locations discussed in this article for learning modules and other materials.

To request a quote for an eco tour visit  http://www.educationaltravelconsultants.com and fill out the brief questionnaire. Or, email info@educationaltravelconsultants.com.

American History in Person: Junior High Student Trip to Washington DC & Philadelphia

Students from The Big Piney School in Wyoming in front of the Washington Cathedral.

Greg Bell, a junior high U.S. History and World Geography teacher from Wyoming, takes 30-40 students on an East Coast tour each year that includes visits to Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and even Gettysburg. These trips expand student learning about these subjects and expose them to a whole new world.  Bell’s group comes from Big Piney, WY — a town of about 1,000 people. It is 100 miles to the nearest shopping mall.  Visiting the urban areas of the East Coast is a real eye opener. Bell says, “I have taken students on these trips for 19 years now. Some people remark that it must get boring.  After all this time I have not grown tired of it. It is the highlight of my year. It’s a social studies teacher’s dream.”

Encountering American historical sites in person is different than learning about them through reading and lectures.  “I can lecture to the kids about George Washington,” says Bell, “but there is nothing like watching a kid walk through Mount Vernon on his own.” During their trip to Washington’s former estate, they met George Washington in person (a living history actor) and were able to ask him questions.

Greg and his son, Jefrrey Bell, stand in front of the Liberty Bell on their school trip to Philadelphia.

Meanwhile other actors were shooting replicas of Colonial weapons. Life in the Eighteenth Century is dramatized in front of the student group and they get to tour a well-preserved, authentic plantation from that time period – complete with living history actors who re-enact life in the Revolutionary period.

Curriculum objectives are closely tied to the itinerary of the trip. Bell’s U.S. History class begins with the American Revolution and ends with the Civil War.  That’s why a visit to Philadelphia is on the itinerary.  “It’s the birthplace of America,” remarked Bell. “We walk through Independence Hall and see the actual place where the Constitution was written.”  Students remember their time spent at Independence Hall vividly, and often speak about this, and other sites in their post trip discussions back at Big Piney School.

Philadelphia is the birthplace of America, but Washington D.C. is the hub of government today.  At Arlington Cemetery, Big Piney School students witnessed the changing of the guard. “In class,” Bell says, “we speak about what a reverent place it is.  We stop and see famous Americans buried there. Who, as an American, cannot be touched by looking off at those endless rows of white headstones?”  Another somber site students visit is the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.  Bell covers the holocaust of World War II in his 7th grade World Geography class.  Bell steers the students away from the more graphic exhibitions. He says they can return in a few years, when they are older. But the most memorable exhibits for students are the display of the shoes of the Holocaust and Daniel’s story.  “There are mountains and mountains of shoes, and each pair represents a person – a human being,” remarked Bell.  Kids also relate to Daniel’s story of the holocaust, because he is about their age.  “Every year some of the kids come out of the elevator in tears,” says Bell.

The Big Piney School 8th Grade Class poses for a picture while they visit the East Coast.

Post trip in-class exercises include discussions of sites that sparked students’ creativity with challenges to recall the memory of what they’ve seen.  “When we return we have a sharing activity, comparing and contrasting what we’ve done in class versus what we saw on the trip,” said Bell.  Some students even make Power Point presentations to share photos of their trip with other students. Bell has designed a fun, interactive exercise for his classes.  “We play a little review game where the students get clues about the history and location of a site. Their task is to guess which site it is,” said Bell.  Exercises such as these stimulate memories of the trip and get them talking about it to one another.

In addition to being a history and world geography teacher, Greg Bell is also the Social Studies Chair for Sublette District #9. This position puts him in charge of setting up K-12 curricula for Social Studies teachers in his district. He is a husband and father of two children. His job is challenging, and his work impacts other teachers. Recently, some of Bell’s female students purchased him a bracelet that says, ‘what you do matters.’ He was wearing this bracelet during the interview. Clearly Bell’s teaching methods –which include these annual trips to Washington D.C. and Philadelphia — do have a lasting impact on students and the way he chooses to educate them.

Request a quote for educational tours that tie in closely to curricular objectives and are customized with teacher and student needs in mind. Or, email info@educationaltravelconsultants.com.

Middle School Students Take an Educational Tour of Georgia

Recently, I worked with Cathy Carlton, a Social Studies teacher for Bennett’s Mill Middle School in Fayetteville, Georgia, to create an itinerary for a class trip that encompassed historical highlights of the state of Georgia.  Her class on Georgia history spans an entire school year.  The class begins with the prehistoric Indians and continues with Colonial studies, a close look at the American Revolution, the antebellum period and Civil War. Studies also include a consideration of the impact of modern wars, a look at regions of Georgia and economics that thrive in them, and the way entrepreneurs have impacted life in the state.

An Educational Tour of Georgia in Sync with Curriculum Objectives
In previous years, Carlton took the student travel group to Savannah for three days and two nights. This year, she found it more economical to limit the trip to two days and one night, so more students could afford to attend. But saving money was not the only motivation to create this unique tour.  “I felt like this trip was much more meaningful because we were able to visit many more sites around the state,” noted Carlton.

Students Travel to Different Sites Across the State of Georgia
Some highlights of the tour included a visit to Milledgeville, Georgia, the first capital of the state, a tour of Andersonville Prison, where prisoners of war were housed during the Civil War, and a tour of CNN Studios in Atlanta, where students were able to see how television news is produced.  In Atlanta, students also visited the Governor’s Mansion as well as The Bremen Jewish Heritage and Holocaust Museum and Oakland Cemetery, where famous Georgians were interred.

The first stop on the tour was Andersonville Prison, a two-hour bus ride from the group’s hometown.  Carlton wanted students to see this National Historic Site, because it tied in with their classroom studies of the Civil War and modern wars.  Students toured the site and gained a better understanding of the place where Northern soldiers were detained and housed during the Civil War. They were also engaged in learning about the dynamics of prisoners of war, and how it affects our society as a whole.

A Student Tour of Milledgeville:  Georgia’s First Capital City
The visit to Millledgeville seemed especially important to Carlton, as it tied in nicely with her curriculum and gave students a chance to actually see the grandeur of the historic capital.  Carlton said, “Students were really impressed by the fact that the capital began there. It was eventually moved to Atlanta so it could be more centrally located.  We were able to visit the Old Capitol Building, but we missed our tour of the Governor’s Mansion there, because we were running a little late, having spent more time at Andersonville then we anticipated.”

Educational Trip to Atlanta Includes Multiple Destinations
When the student tour group reached Atlanta, they took a break to eat supper at the Hard Rock Café, then toured Oakland Cemetery, where Bobby Jones, Maynard Jackson and Margaret Mitchell are buried.  “The guided tours of Oakland Cemetery included the graves of these famous Georgians — which were part of our studies — and many other historical people as well,” observed Carlton.

The educational tour group spent the evening at the Hampton Inn near the Perimeter Mall where breakfast was included the following morning.  Their tour of Atlanta began with a look at the Governor’s Mansion, where they actually saw Governor Perdue leaving the building that day.  This was followed by lunch at the Varsity, a famous Atlanta landmark.

The afternoon was filled with a visit to the Bremen Holocaust Museum.  Carlton was impressed with the tours given here, which were led by “survivors or family members of survivors.  It was fascinating for students to hear what the holocaust was actually like.  The group also viewed artifacts and videos of the holocaust.”

The trip on Georgia history concluded with a tour of CNN Studios in Atlanta, founded by the famous entrepreneur Ted Turner, who also started the first television station in Georgia, TBS.  The group of over 81 students was broken up into smaller groups for the studio tour, where they saw live news and also had a chance to glimpse the behind the scenes work involved in airing national news 24-hours per day.  Carlton recalled, “Students were thrilled by seeing the live newscasters, because they recognized some of the people they’ve seen on television.”

Educational Trip of Georgia was a Success!
Overall, creating a historical tour of Georgia was a positive experience for me and my staff. Usually, student tours are limited to the Atlanta metro area, because there are many educational sites to see in this city. After collaborating with Carlton on the creation of this custom tour, I can now see the benefits of widening the scope of destinations in Georgia.  It provides students a larger view of Georgia’s history because it includes landmarks that may be lesser known, but are equally important in understanding state history.

Student travel groups interested in touring Atlanta may want to consider including some of these prominent sites in their tour with visits to Milledgeville and Andersonville Prison included on their itinerary.  Overall, students did not spend more than 3 ½ hours on the bus the first day, and they had plenty of stops to keep the travel time interesting.

Request a quote for a student tour of Georgia or email info@educationaltravelconsultants.com for a quote.

Adjudicated Music Festivals in Orlando, Washington D.C., and New York City

One of the objectives of some educational travel may be to perform with a musical instrument or voice and compete in front of judges. Also known as the adjudicated music festival, a performance with a final judging may take place in a college auditorium or an arts performance venue with excellent acoustics, or a public venue with these facilities. A band, choir or jazz ensemble is not performing for a crowd, but judge(s) who have backgrounds as college music professors or high school band or orchestra directors who are well-respected in the profession.

Various student tour groups benefit greatly by embracing this experience. Junior High, Middle School and High School Choirs, Concert Bands, Orchestras, Jazz ensembles and parades all seem to derive a great deal from the adjudicated music festival experience. After the music festival is judged, students tour groups attend a dinner where awards are given, and they are publicly recognized for their work.

Popular Music Festivals Venues in Orlando Florida
Since it’s the location of Disney World, Orlando Florida offers some attractive venues for music festivals. After the adjudicated music festival performance, enjoy Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, MGM Sudios, Epcot Center, or the Magic Kingdom.

Popular Venues for Adjudicated Music Festivals in Washington D.C.

For students visiting Washington D.C., there are many outstanding adjudicated music festival performance opportunities to choose from. A professional educational travel consultant can help a student travel group identify a music festival that is appropriate for your band, orchestra, choir, jazz ensemble, or more.

High School Musical Tour Dates in New York City
Some notable performance venues in New York City are available to student travel groups. These include the Statue of Liberty, United Nations, and Lincoln Center.

High School Musical Tour Combined with Theme Parks

Sometimes groups attending adjudicated music festivals request a combination of competition and fun on their tour. These student travel groups may arrange to hold the awards ceremony in a theme park setting. Other groups tend to hold their awards ceremony for the adjudicated music festival in a hotel ballroom, or at a dinner show.

The theme park setting for an awards ceremony naturally appeals to students because of the fun involved. The theme park adjudicated music festival tour appeals to the high school and junior high age groups, where many are likely to participate in Mixed Choir, Concert Band, Orchestras, Jazz Ensembles and Parades.

For many bands, orchestras, choirs or jazz ensembles visiting Orlando Florida, the Disney High Musical School Tours offer the type of experience they are seeking.

Outside of Washington D.C. student travel groups may visit Kings Dominion, North of Richmond, or Six Flags Great Adventure in Northern Virginia to complement the adjudicated music festival experience.

For student performance groups traveling and performing near New York City, Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey is a great place to visit and hold an awards ceremony.

Educational travel tours are enhanced by adjudicated music festival performances. But some groups would rather perform and not be judged by a formal committee. For these groups, the non-adjudicated music festival will work well. Whatever your travel group’s needs are, visit http://wwwEducationalTravelConsultants.com for more information about adjudicated and non-adjudicated music festival performance tours and venues.

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The Art Tour of New York City

New York City is such a fantastic city for student travel. It can be viewed in so many different ways. I have found that student travel groups that focus on the academic subject(s) being explored are rewarded with a deeper educational experience.

Over the last 25 years, I’ve been developing educational travel tours for a variety of school age groups. I began to notice a pattern in process. There were many art educators and art students who wanted to take a tour of New York City focused on art. I decided to develop a tour that did just that.

There are literally thousands of venues for visual art in New York City, if we include well-known galleries, public sculpture, and more. For the Educational Travel Consultants Art Tour, I decided to focus on some of the major art museums and add related entertainment.

There are several key areas of the city I chose to cover on the New York City Art tour. Many students are aware that Greenwich Village is the part of New York most inhabited by artists, so I schedule an afternoon in the Village for art tour groups so they may really capture a feel for the contemporary New York City art scene.

The major destinations folded within the art tour are: Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, Solomon Guggenheim Museum, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Student groups focused on art or art history are more likely to request some of the bigger names in New York City Museums. As well they should. These museums showcase and collect the work of some of the greatest American artists. Some even collect the work of international artists, and offer glimpses into art history throughout the ages.

For the art student, the chance to see timeless works of art and learn about the history of the artist and the art is often a once in a lifetime opportunity. To help your educational travel group conduct a tour of New York City, visit http://www.educationaltravelconsultants.com/destination/subject/art_nyc.htm for additional art tour destinations of interest.

Itinerary for an Educational Field Trip to Orlando

A student travel tour to Orlando Florida is a great destination for a high school class trip or a band trip. Orlando, Florida provides performance venues, education, and cultural diversity opportunities for students from various backgrounds. Educational tours that include performance and/or workshops are included in the student tour. Students can become a part of Disney Magic Music Days, with high school band performances and a wide range of other performance types to an international audience. Or, student groups more focused on active learning may choose to take part in Disney Performing Arts Workshops while visiting Orlando.

These two excellent Walt Disney World programs are a great way to focus an educational field trip experience to Orlando Florida. Any well-rounded student tour will also include visits to Universal Studios, Epcot Center, or other popular destinations at Walt Disney World. Culturally diverse dining and entertainment opportunities are also available at Walt Disney World.

Disney Magic Music Days

For the young musician, the thrill of performing in front of a live audience is critical to development and growth. While researching a school field trip for the band, choir, orchestra, dance ensemble, drill team or other types of performance groups, consider a visit to Walt Disney World to perform in front of a live international audience. Disney proudly proclaims on the website: ‘Become a star on the world’s greatest stage.’

Make the high school band trip a tour for all to remember. First, work with a qualified educational travel consultant to pull together a fantastic field trip and performance tour that includes Disney Magic Music Days. The educational tour company will work closely with your high school band or orchestra, or other type of performance group to schedule an appropriate Florida field trip that includes an audition for the Disney Show. Disney divides the auditions into three categories: instrumental, choral, and dance. If your student tour group is chosen, they will perform in front of a worldwide audience as part of Disney Magic Music Days.

The National Association for Music Education endorses Disney Magic Music Days performances by student tour groups. This program is an activity that contributes to greater musical learning and development. Overnight field trips to Orlando Florida to perform at Disney Magic Music Days are complemented by fun in some of Disney’s greatest theme parks including: Epcot Center, Universal and MGM Studios, Space Mountain, the Twilight Zone Mountain of Terror, and more. Rely on a qualified educational tour professional to schedule the Disney Magic Music Days performance and tour for your student travel group.

Disney Performing Arts Workshops

Student tour groups that visit Orlando Florida can become deeply engaged in the Disney experience through participation in a Performing Arts Workshop. These workshops inspire the student performance tour participants through direct interaction, coaching, and practice. Student tour groups are trained and coached by professional Disney performance artists.

Artistic techniques are taught under a wide range of programs, with participants from auxiliary units, pom squads, color guards, drill teams, orchestras, concert bands, jazz and marching bands, vocalists and dancers.

Walt Disney World Performing Arts Workshops are educational in nature and teach the student tour participants to improve their techniques, presentation and staging. Student travel groups are excited about learning from the professionals in the Disney Performing Arts Workshops. The enthusiasm builds if the student travel group is scheduled for a public performance as part of Disney Magic Music Days.

A student tour of Orlando Florida is greatly enhanced when an educational travel professional is engaged to take care of the details. Visit www.EducationalTravelConsultants.com for a complete overview of educational student tours.

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Itinerary for an Educational Field Trip to New York City

When student travel tours are scheduled for New York City, the main item on the itinerary is art and culture, with some standard points of interest, like The Statue of Liberty and Times Square, included. Here is a descriptive sample itinerary for a New York City student field trip, which balances art and cultural highlights with visits to interesting destinations in Manhattan.

Always use a professional educational travel consultant when planning a trip to New York City. Certified tour guides must be used in New York City, and motor coach drivers must be well versed in street layouts and traffic patterns. An educational travel consultant will select qualified individuals to work with an educational tour. The goal of educational travel is to deliver the highest quality learning experience to the group, and to keep the student travel tour on schedule.

Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

Student travel tours planned in advance can easily complement classroom activities. “Modern Teachers” is a MoMA program that allows educators to customize educational tours of the Museum. Working closely with materials on MoMA’s website http://www.moma.org/modernteachers/, an educator can construct a lesson plan to coincide with the field trip to MoMA. This exciting tool for educators is complemented by video lessons on the world’s greatest artists. With advance notice, educational tour groups can visit MoMA with a docent.

Metropolitan Art Museum

At the Metropolitan Art Museum, an emphasis on the classics benefit the student travel group, and give them a well rounded approach to art history. The brand new Greek and Roman galleries offer glimpses into the world of the ancients with 5,200 pieces from the permanent collection now available for public viewing. The Cloisters is located at Fort Tryon Park in Upper Manhattan and recently reopened in 2006. It represents the world of medieval art and architecture. Other exhibits, lectures, and special programs are also available to student tour groups. Have an educational travel professional schedule a guided student tour for the Met in advance.

A Student Tour of the Empire State Building

Have a qualified educational tour consultant schedule a group tour of the Empire State Building in New York City. The Empire State Building was constructed in 1930, during the beginning of the great depression, greatly reducing building costs. The 86th Floor Observatory offers a commanding view of Manhattan and has been the site of filming “Sleepless in Seattle” and “An Affair to Remember.” The building has a unique history surrounding its construction. The impetus for building the Empire State Building was a contest between Walter Chrysler (Chrysler Corporation) and John Jakob Raskob (General Motors) to see who could build the tallest skyscraper.

Guided Tour of Manhattan

Half-day student tours of Manhattan usually begin at Central Park, the northernmost point in Manhattan, and end to Battery Park, the Southernmost point. The tour covers some major points of interest in Manhattan such as Central Park, Times Square, Soho, City Hall, Wall Street, The Statue of Liberty, and much more. In addition to seeing points of interest, student tour groups will also learn about the artistic and commercial history of Manhattan on this tour.

Educational Tours: See a Broadway Musical While in New York City

Almost every student travel group wants to experience at least one Broadway Musical while in New York City. Tickets for popular shows need to be procured in advance by a student travel company. “Wicked”, “Chicago”, and a “Chorus Line” are popular Broadway musicals appropriate for student travel groups. Off Broadway productions are also available. Book student travel group tickets in advance through a qualified educational travel company to obtain student seating together and receive the best price per ticket.

An educational field trip to New York City can offer the student the travel opportunity of a lifetime. This is only one sample itinerary of a student tour of New York City. There are many other variations of student travel tours to New York. With clear objectives in mind and proper planning, a more customized educational tour of New York City can easily be created. Visit http://www.educationaltravelconsultants.com for more field trip ideas for New York City.