The sun had barely peeped above the horizon when over one hundred eager teenagers and their brave chaperons rode off - taking the traditional 8th grade trip to Virginia and Washington, DC. This school sponsored trip and so many others like it are planned during the school year for students to visit historical sites, monuments, memorials, galleries and museums. During these tours students are able to experience firsthand places which include:
The Holocaust Museum: http://www.ushmm.org/museum/exhibit/online/
The National Museum of African Art: http://africa.si.edu/collections/index.html
The Newseum - http://www.newseum.com/
The World War II Memorial World War II Memorial
Vietnam Veterans Memorial - Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Although students may not be able to see all that Washington DC has to offer as a tourist location, the National Register of Historic Places provides a comprehensive listing of possibilities at http://www.nps.gov/history/NR/travel/wash/sitelist.htm. An additional, website to visit for an aerial view of Washington DC is http://earthgoogle.com
To visit all of these places virtually is an amazing adventure. Imagine what the student experience is like being there. See in your mind’s eye how walking among the monuments, memorials and the halls in which some of the founding fathers of this country traveled could further peak the student’s interest. This could perhaps heighten the student's interest in their study of United States history. In the classroom, think about the usefulness of these virtual tours and how this information serves as a virtual introduction of things to see during the tour. Envision viewing these sites after returning from a trip to Virginia and Washington DC as a part of a historical review or an introduction on the study of World War II. Even still, students may wish to visit some of the websites to view information about places they could not visit because of time constraint.
By the time you read this post my son and his fellow travelers will have returned home weary from their journey. I will have, according to my son, “asked him over one hundred questions about the trip”, including, what he thought about the Atlantic Pavilion Pillars at the World War II Museum. What he thought about the digital stories from the Holocaust Museum? I know he’ll question how I know about these things (especially, since I promised that his dad and I would not follow the bus). Then I will let him know that I too took the tour – No, I did not follow the bus – well… I did virtually.