Readers' Survey 2006: If You Could Take Your Students on a Free Field Trip, Where Would You Go?
Edutopia readers weigh in on their favorites.
The sky was not the limit, nor was the backyard, since "the Moon" turned up right alongside "a garden full of blooms." You mentioned sites ranging from the Great Pyramids to the Globe Theatre, and places spanning from Bangalore to Brazil. But the most frequent response -- with a trip to NASA headquarters and the Grand Canyon trailing just a bit behind -- was our nation's capital: Washington, DC. Makes sense. The District of Columbia is a natural lab for the study of any and every subject -- history, science, English, and art -- and so many of its resources are free.
We asked a pair of education mavens with intimate knowledge of Washington, DC, this question: "If you were to take your class to Washington, what would you do there?" See Congress in action, says Linda Roberts, former director of the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Educational Technology. Not only would a tour of the Capitol give students an insider's view of the iconic building, but the third-floor visitors' gallery overlooks the proceedings of the House and the Senate. For extra-special treatment, contact your local member of Congress to arrange a tour of the Capitol.
The top floor of the Department of State, adds Roberts, is an excellent choice for high school students: With its first-class art and furniture, she says, the space has students stumbling on "a walking history of American craft and culture." And do not forget the Library of Congress (the main reading room alone is enough to wow even the least likely of bookworms) and DC's scores of fascinating museums, Roberts adds.
Both Roberts and Joe Villani, deputy executive director of the National School Boards Association, suggest the Holocaust Memorial Museum as a must-see for mature audiences. The Natural History Museum also makes both lists: "And don't miss the insect zoo," says Roberts. Adds Villani, "Dinosaurs and diamonds to amaze even the most sophisticated kid."