When Virtual Field Trips Are Not Enough

One of the greatest things about the world wide web is the places that you can travel to sitting at your computer.  From virtual scavenger hunts with Google Earth to visiting international museums and art galleries, there are many places to explore with our students while remaining standing in the classroom.  At the same time, I have come to love field trips that take place outside my classroom as well.  Every year I am always trying to find field trip opportunities where my students can gain hands-on and behind the scenes insight of a particular venue.  Below are my top ten field trips in and around New York City (in no particular order).

1. The Dolan DNA Center; Cold Spring Harbor, NY

Any science class would benefit from participating in a hands-on workshop in this genetics laboratory and education center. My favorite workshops are CSI based, include DNA fingerprinting and students solving a century old mystery about an unidentified person.

2. The Culinary Institute of America; Hyde Park, NY

The best tasting field trip I have ever planned and attended – it has become an annual ritual.  Students tour the campus and speak with students in the culinary arts programs, followed by lunch at one of the six restaurants on campus.  Bon Appetite!

3. The Museum at Bethel Woods; Bethel, NY

Visit the spot where the iconic Woodstock Festival of 1969 took place.  The museum itself is filled with artifacts, sound stations, and streaming videos.  The museum educators offer engaging hand-ons workshops and a scavenger hunt around the museum that is enjoyable for all ages.

4. The Paley Center for Media; New York, NY

Students participate in interactive and engaging workshops on television and media.  Topics range from gender roles in the media to representations of superheroes and villains in popular culture, and the art of persuasion in television and advertising.

5. The United Nations; New York, NY

From a world cultures and social studies point of view, this is one of the best places to come and see where the world meets to discuss pressing international topics.

6. The Federal Reserve Bank; New York, NY

Picture a caged vault with rooms filled with gold bricks.  Sounds like a movie scene for a bank robbery or a cartoon, but this in the basement of the Federal Reserve Bank.  Tour the museum and bank to learn about the role of economics in our everyday lives.

7. The Bronx Zoo; Bronx; NY

One of the best workshops they offer is “Wildlife Careers” for secondary students.  This behind the scenes workshop gives students insight into the the many careers that are involved in maintaining the zoo and wildlife conservation.

8. Broadway Classroom; New York, NY

Every year I take my drama students to see a Broadway show.  Prior to the show students participate in a workshop with actors learning the ins and outs of being a Broadway thespian.  Broadway Classroom offers more than 20 class choices ranging from stage fighting to musical theater and dance.

9. Stone Barns; Pocantico Hills, NY

Stone Barns is about agricultural sustainability and teaching young people about the connection between farming and the food we eat. Students can participate in a hands-on workshop cooking what they find in the gardens and greenhouse after a tour of this amazing center.

10. NBC Studio Tour; New York, NY

Students love going behind the scenes of NBC Studios to see the stages of SNL, NBC Nightly News and The Jimmy Fallon Show.  Tour the various floors of Rockefeller Plaza and see the control rooms.  Students get a chance to work the green screen and tape a newscast. A great tour to pair with the Paley Center for Media.


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