If you want to have a real impact on your students' educational experience and give them lifelong memories, you might want to consider organising an international school tour. Not only do school tours help reinforce classroom material by exposing children to real-world situations, but they can also help build confidence, create stronger teacher-student relationships and improve a student's critical thinking skills.
If you are serious about a trip for your students, but not sure where to start, you can't go past a school tour to NASA. While at first glance, a trip to NASA in Orlando, Florida might not seem to be as appealing as other destinations on offer, such as China or Europe, there is a reason why NASA tours continue to be our most popular trip among teachers and educators each year. NASA offers exciting, hands-on STEM workshops that surprise, delight, and give students an insight into where a career in STEM could take them.
Not only that, but a trip to NASA means you can also take advantage of the range of experiences Florida and the United States offers students. You could include a trip to Universal Studios or day relaxing at Cocoa beach or add a few days to your itinerary to explore Silicon Valley and San Fransisco. The possibilities are endless. While it might take adding a few extra activities, such as an NBA game or theme park day to your itinerary to get some of your students excited about a STEM trip. We promise, your students will return citing NASA as a highlight of their trip.
Here's what to expect on a school tour to NASA and Orlando with Educating Adventures.
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is the heart of NASA. Kennedy Space Center (appropriately named after the late President John F. Kennedy shortly after his assassination in 1963) became an official space centre in 1962 - just seven years before NASA reached its goal of landing a man on the moon. Each year, more than 1.5 million people visit Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex making it one of Florida’s most popular tourist destinations.
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex has undergone extensive redevelopments and enhancements over the years. The 70-acre facility offers guests an educational, entertaining and comprehensive insight into space exploration. From witnessing shuttle launches and talking to astronauts to larger-than-life IMAX films, live shows, hands-on activities and behind-the-scenes tours.
A visit to Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex is an insane multi-sensory experience - one point of difference is the calibre staff who work there. It could easily be led to believe that Kennedy Space Center offers its own master's program with the high level of insight, passion and knowledge the staff working there have.
Your students will learn about the history of space exploration through the vast number of exhibitions on offer. One of the most famous exhibitions on offer is the Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibition. Space Shuttle Atlantis served as a backbone to the world’s space community for more than 25 years and conducted more internationally themed missions than any other spacecraft in human history. It served as a pillar of international cooperation both in space and on the ground.
At the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex, your students will also gain insight into the present state of space exploration, and what is predicted to happen in future in this growing industry.
Another cool thing about a visit to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is that it offers the world’s only twin IMAX screens, each five stories tall. Your students can watch “Journey to Space” which explores NASA’s bold plans for in-depth space exploration using stunning space footage.
If you're interested in turning a visit to NASA into a multi-day experience, there are a range of world-class learning workshops on offer. Designed to give students real-world experience in a variety of STEM subjects. Each student will get a certificate from NASA for their participation. Here are some of the multi-day workshops on offer.
Space Trek Robotics Workshop
Students will spend three or five days embarking on a journey filled with learning and adventure. In this program, students will be introduced to robotics and learn the basics behind C++ programming with an application called Arduino. Students will collaborate in teams to program a robotic rover and accomplish missions on Mars.
Teams must work to master various programming concepts for their robots to complete challenges. Experiences gained from each problem will prepare them for the final mission on NASA's mock surface of Mars.
Space Trek Rocketry Workshop
Over three or five days, students will work in teams to construct a water rocket. Your students will construct rockets with parts they mathematically design, 3D print, and laser cut in NASA's fabrication lab.
Teams of students will then be in charge of collecting both theoretical and experimental data for their rockets. The experimental data will be collected using a ﬂight computer and real launches of their rockets outside. The theoretical data will be collected using our uniquely designed and on-site built Bottle-rocket Engine Thrust Acquisition System. Your students will learn the fundamentals of rocket design, theoretical and experimental data collection and data analysis.
Near Space Investigation
In this program, your students will work as a team to successfully launch and retrieve a weather balloon, with a payload that travels up to 100,000 feet. Students will learn about subjects such as meteorology, telemetry and how NASA takes different variables into account to perform missions, very similar to these. They will also learn about payload integration and how to plan and efﬁciently carry out a balloon launch.
Students will work in teams each assigned to different positions similar to those used by NASA, including Flight Director, Safety Ofﬁcer, Payload Integration, Launch Operations, and Meteorology. Instructors will train students to perform their tasks and then assist in operations as the students take lead. Emphasis is on communication among teams and to follow their roles to achieve a successful launch and recovery. Outside of their roles, teams will also experiment with Arduinos and different sensors to get a better understanding of how the ﬂight computer works.
Students will also learn how to test equipment, use checklists, and prepare all the components for the ﬁnal launch. The main piece of equipment is our ﬂight computer, which has the capability to record variables such as humidity, pressure, temperature, velocity, and altitude.
Astronaut Training Experience (ATX)
Nowhere else in the world offers students the opportunity to experience authentic astronaut training than at Kennedy Space Center.
In the Astronaut Training Experience (ATX) program, students will join the NASA crew and participate in a launch with NASA’s Space Launch System - a super-heavy-lift launch vehicle that is part of NASA's deep space exploration missions.
Lunch with an astronaut
In all of history, there have only been approximately 800 astronauts. On a visit to Kennedy Space Center, your students will have the once in a lifetime opportunity to meet veteran astronauts from NASA’s Astronaut Corps. This occasion offers an up-close and personal opportunity to share in the excitement of space exploration through the eyes and personal stories of one of NASA’s best.
If you’re interested in learning more about a STEM-trip to NASA and want to know what other experiences are on offer for your students in the USA, download our sample itinerary today.