Combine interactive online activities with a visit to the Smithsonian’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center and make learning fun! Get helpful tips on making the most of your museum experience and how to use the learning portal to supplement your visit as well as your child’s education.
Make Learning Fun at the Museum
Located next to the Dulles Airport, the Udvar-Hazy Center is the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s annex. But with 3000 artifacts on display, there’s nothing subordinate about this museum’s collection. And if your child is fascinated by airplanes, this is the place to go! There are nearly 200 aircraft on display, including the Space Shuttle Discovery and the iconic spy plane SR-71 Blackbird.
The Udvar-Hazy Center’s collection outlines the history of human flight, from 18th century ballooning to recent feats in aerospace and aviation. While guided tours are not currently available on site, you can speak with the museum’s docents remotely and hear their incredible stories, along with first-hand experiences, of aviation and space.
Know Before You Go
During COVID-19, in order to visit the Udvar-Hazy Center a timed admission pass is required. Same day passes are often available but are not guaranteed,” says Public Affairs Specialist Holly Williamson, “so we recommend you reserve a ticket at least a few days in advance to make sure you don’t miss out.” You’ll find other COVID-19 information on the website – and don’t forget your masks.
While admission to the museum is free, there is a parking fee. Food service is not available at the museum at this time. Be sure to get a parking receipt at a staffed exit booth. This will give you a same-day return, so you can grab lunch and then come back. And snacks/lunches may be eaten outside of the museum.
Tips to Make Museum Learning Fun
With nearly 3000 artifacts on display, visitors may want to narrow down the scope of what they want to see first, suggests Ms. Williamson. You can find online suggestions for exhibits like human spaceflight and women in aviation and aerospace. And a scavenger hunt, great for younger museum goers, is all about Animals in the Sky.
Before visiting the Udvar-Hazy Center, spend some time on the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum website to pinpoint some exhibits to visit. Kids will enjoy checking out the ultralight aircraft. And with the continued exploration of Mars, you’ll want to see the full-size prototype of the Mars Pathfinder.
Bring the Museum into Your Home
Recap your visit to the Udvar-Hazy Center with the museum’s website to learn more about the exhibits your family visited. And one of the best pages features videos on the Apollo mission, astronaut stories, astronomy, and space exploration. Kids can also learn about living and working in space and what astronauts eat.
The Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum also has a terrific learning portal with videos, hands-on activities, games and more. Middle Schoolers can follow STEM in 30 and ask questions via live chat when episodes are released.
Special virtual theme’s are a big part of the learning portal. November’s theme focuses on the International Space Station. “It’s the perfect time to be talking about this,” says Ms. Williamson. “November 2nd was the 20th anniversary of continuous human occupation on the ISS!”
There’s a virtual scavenger hunt (using the Goosechase app) November 13 and 14 and November Night Sky Bingo. You’ll also get tips on how to spot the ISS in the sky. You can take a virtual tour of the space station with Google Earth. And be sure to log on for Soar Together November 13-14.
More Online Learning Resources
“The Learning Guides,” says Ms. Williamson, “ are great ways for parents to dig into specific topics with their kids. If your child walks away from the Udvar-Hazy Center fascinated by spacesuits or World War II or Mars, you can download a learning guide.” In addition to the Learning Guides, the museum has created new resources with Smithsonian Learning Labs. For younger learners, there are virtual Pre-K learning experiences through Flights of Fancy, a story time program. Or join together with other families and sign up for virtual field trips. “Everyone is invited to learn with us,” says Ms. Williamson. “Reserved programs are open to any group that meets the 10-person minimum requirement.”
Put a trip to Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center on your Kids Trail Bucket List for out of this world learning!