By Randy Julian
Editor’s note: This post is part of a series that highlight some of our best single-day class trip ideas.
I think the sites listed below could work for any class in grades 4 through 10, but they were written especially with 8th grade trips in mind. Why? Because so many 8th grade curriculums feature U.S. and state history, and so many classes like to celebrate the end of middle school with a field trip.
In this post, I’ve listed some under-the radar ideas for an 8th grade trip to Washington DC. To see all of our day trip ideas posts, click this link.
The Capitol. The Lincoln Memorial. The Air & Space Museum.
You know all the “standard” D.C. sites for a class trip. And you don’t want to organize a “standard” trip to D.C.
This post is for you.
What follows is a rundown of five venues to choose from if you want to plan an 8th grade Washington trip that is a little bit different, but still educational and fun:
This museum, located near Union Station, is a lot more than a giant stamp collection.
The exhibits and collections highlight postal history from pre-stamp days to the present, including vehicles used to deliver the mail, Postal Service equipment, uniforms, mailboxes and more.
One current exhibit that may attract interest (but is geared toward older students) is “PostSecret: The Power of a Postcard.” According to the museum, “More than 500 artfully decorated postcards mailed anonymously from around the world reveal regret, fear, betrayal, desire, confession, childhood humiliation and other compelling confessions.”
And yes, the museum has large collections of rare and noteworthy stamps, as well.
Located near Chinatown, this museum’s mission is to “help people use science to solve problems in their communities.”
Its interactive exhibits are grouped into three sections: the Earth Lab, focusing on climate change; the Life Lab, focusing on healthy living and brain functions; and the Idea Lab, focusing on resilience and collaboration in our communiities.
This quirky site is decidedly “un-Washington,” billing itself as “dedicated to exploring the creative process.” Exhibits, music and surroundings change daily, but the experience is consistently fun and thought-provoking.
The Mansion itself features more than 70 secret doors, and groups can book a “Treasure Hunt Tour,” in which visitors scour the second floor in search of a variety of items.
4. The Newseum
The Newseum is not under the radar for Washington-area residents, but I have found many from outside the region have not heard of this great museum.
Located in stunning space on Pennsylvania Avenue, the Newseum’s mission is to champion our First Amendment freedoms. Many of the exhibits tell the story of America through the eyes of the media, which means classic newspapers, radio and TV broadcasts and more. It’s a great experience for history and journalism students alike.
There are several good food courts in D.C. — the Reagan Building has one, for instance. But as mentioned on the ‘Constitutional D.C.’ post, the best move on an 8th grade Washington trip is probably enjoying an on-the-go box lunch so you can stretch your D.C. touring time.
Did You Know?
Picking a cherry blossom from one of the trees surrounding the Tidal Basin is a federal crime.
Do you have any questions or feedback? Please leave them in the comments. And I’m hoping many of you will answer this question for use in a future blog post:
What’s the best 8th grade trip (or trip for any grade) that you’ve taken, and why?
All the best,
More Ideas for Creative Spring Day Trips