Monday, October 10, 2011

Washington, D.C.- The Mother of All Field Trips! (Part One- The National Air and Space Museum)

On a crisp fall morning, we drove the short distance from Baltimore to D.C. paying our last toll of the trip on the way.  The pristine blue of the sky made each monument and memorial stand out even more glorious than normal.  What a perfect day to visit our nation's capital!

Emma loved it when she discovered
the Wrights first flight was on her birthday!
The wonderful thing about Washington, D. C. is that everywhere you turn there is something significant to see and do; and the good news is most of it is FREE!  The brightest spot in all that freedom is our nation's treasury of museums, The Smithsonian.  We began our family field trip at Wyatt's most anticipated stop, the National Air and Space Museum.  Here, the treasures span from the Wright Brothers' first plane flown successfully at Kitty Hawk, NC to a moon rock gathered during the Apollo missions that tourists can actually touch.  Pretty cool, huh?

How many places can a family touch a piece of the moon and visit Orville and Wilbur's bike shop in Ohio?  There is so much to see and do here between the exhibits, the planetarium, the IMAX theater and the simulators that a family could easily spend a week just exploring this one museum of the Smithsonian; However, we were crunched for time so we had allotted 3 hours... Ready, Set, GO EXPLORE!

The kids made a beeline for the interactive exhibit, "How Things Fly."  Here, Anabel experimented with lift, thrust and drag:

And Wyatt and Emma learned how a satellite orbits the earth by actually becoming one (temporarily, of course.)  Watching the "Explainer" demonstrate with Emma and Wyatt taught me, too.  If you're interested in how a satellite works, check out our movie:

Our favorite exhibits were "The Wright Brothers and the Invention of the Aerial Age," "Apollo to the Moon," "Exploring the Planets," and "Legend, Memory and the Great War in the Air."  All these exhibits display real artifacts and take you through the science and history behind each.  Who could ask for better educational lessons?

 I walked with Anabel through the Wright Brothers' timeline and we discussed the drive and the bravery it took to attempt to fly.

Greg and Wyatt toured the Apollo missions together amazed at our scientists' accomplishments.  How did we get from the first flight in 1903 to landing on the moon just 66 years later?  Amazing!

Emma and I loved the scale models of our Solar System in Exploring the Planets.  We studied details about each planet and NASA's work exploring them.

History came to life in the World War I exhibit, Legend and Memory and the Great War in the Air.  Having just read The House at Riverton and watching My Boy Jack (the story of Rudyard Kipling's son) and being obsessed with the PBS series, Downton Abbey, I was extremely enthralled by the many details in the exhibit about World War I and the affect the new invention of the plane had on the war.

All the exhibits highlighted the most rewarding aspect of family field trips: learning and creating memories at the same time.

After touring most of the Air and Space Museum and playing with hands-on science, we were off to another museum.

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