STEM is an educational curriculum that combines science, technology, engineering, and math. STEAM is adding art into the mix. Many Virginia museums and attractions offer educators and students the chance to get inspired, explore and learn in a setting outside of the traditional classroom. Below are a few museums and attractions and the exciting programs they offer.
The NASA Wallops Flight Facility Visitor Center, Wallops Island
The NASA Wallops Flight Facility Visitor Center offers exhibits about aeronautics, rockets, scientific balloons, current missions, and the history of Wallops Flight Facility. Numerous free public programs, field trip opportunities, events, and group tours of the facility are also available. The Visitor Center also serves as the viewing site for rockets that launch from Wallops Island. The Virginia Space Flight Academy offers middle school students day and overnight programs with a mixture of excitement and fun.
Kings Dominion, Doswell
Kings Dominion’s lively, interactive setting is the ultimate venue for a greater understanding of the basics of STEM. Working with educators throughout the state, they have designed engaging educational programs with companion tools, including teacher-student workbooks, educator guides and pre-trip classroom activities – all made to align with Virginia courses of study as well as National Science Standards. Meal deals are also available.
Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Museum, Virginia Beach
The Virginia Aquarium is home to over 10,000 animals representing over 300 species. Self-guided visits, 3D films, an interactive boat trip and standards-based programs help bring science to life for your students. Live animals encounters are sure to engage students of all ages. Scout overnights, workshops and summer camps are also available.
Children’s Science Center Lab, Fairfax
The Lab features four experience zones with changing exhibits as well as a flex-space “Garage” for camps, classes, workshops, parties and mini expositions to showcase regional STEM talent in-action. Special animal encounters can be arranged on certain days. STEM educators are on-site to help facilitate activities.
Science Museum of Virginia, Richmond
Visitors can get up close and personal with science while watching an amazing live demonstration or show their creativity by mixing art and science in Art Lab. The museum features touring exhibits from around the world and allows students to learn the science behind their favorite feast. Groups can attend a rat basketball game or watch live astronomy presentations, cosmic expeditions or a giant screen movie on the most technologically advanced digital dome theater in the world, The Dome.
Chincoteague Bay Field Station, Wallops Island
Located on the Eastern Shore, between the Atlantic Ocean and ecologically important Chesapeake Bay, the Chincoteague Bay Field Station introduces students to a variety of concepts in the biological, chemical, and physical sciences. Their summer camp activities include all of their traditional marine science topics as well as arts, sports and team building.
Virginia Living Museum, Newport News
At the Virginia Living Museum, nature and science come alive where visitors are connected to nature every day! Discover how pH can affect our ecosystems by testing different aquatic environments. Learn about plastic pollution and then upcycle some in their Shrinky Dinks activity and save it from ending up in a local landfill. On a sunny day, observe the sun in the rooftop observatory and race solar cars on the outdoor trail. These are just a few STEAM activities you may encounter during your visit at the Virginia Living Museum.
Explore More Discovery Museum, Harrisonburg
Over a dozen community-inspired exhibits are designed to engage young minds through interactive and multi-sensory learning. Students can design balloon-powered cars in Maker City or use simple circuits to light up their drawings. Master Summer Camps allow children to learn the science behind super heroes or create culinary masterpieces from around the world. The museum also offers special programs and workshops and SOL-guided field trips.
Virginia Museum of Natural History, Martinsville
The Virginia Museum of Natural History has award-winning exhibits, ground-breaking scientific research and collections, and innovative educational programs for all ages. Students can participate in mock digs for dinosaur bones, build and race LEGO cars, explore iconic paintings and drawings using a math lens, conduct a variety of experiments and much more.
Virginia Transportation Museum, Roanoke
Explore the museum’s extensive collection of steam, diesel and electric locomotives, rail cars and model trains. Their student programming is aligned with the Virginia Standards of Learning in multiple disciplines and supports STEM education. Programs can be modified, developed, and crafted for individual groups. A playground, picnic area and lunch room is also available for your group.
Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, Fairfax
Home to two enormous hangars housing thousands of flight artifacts, including the Space Shuttle Discovery, the Steven F. Udvar Hazy center offers educational programs and activities for all ages. Portable carts called Discovery Stations, allow visitors to make a stop-motion animated film with space toys. Catch a science demo, learn about the forces of flight or fly a combat sortie in a simulator while doing 360-degree barrel rolls in a P-51 Mustang or F-4 Phantom II.