The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum has launched new virtual initiatives for the 2020–2021 school year that will increase educators’ access to museum content, resources and artifacts. Virtual field trips and story times are now available to reserve for classrooms and in-home education. Learning Guides, a new season of the “STEM in 30” webcast series and curated content released monthly will also be available throughout the school year on the museum’s website.
Virtual field trips are available for grades one through 12 and offer unique opportunities for teachers and students to engage with the museum’s content. They provide an experience aligned with educational standards, complemented by a suite of materials, including content deep-dives ready for instructional use, hands-on experiences that include adaptations for completion at home, artifact immersions that connect the museum’s collection to the field trip’s content and virtual games and activities that make the content engaging. Virtual field trips are available on a variety of topics including geography, living and working in space, Mars, paper airplane design and more. The minimum number of learners for any virtual field trip is 10. Virtual field trips are made possible by the support of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and The Hillside Foundation—Allan and Shelley Holt. More information is available at airandspace.si.edu/virtual-field-trips.
For younger students, the museum has also launched virtual story times. These online programs for early childhood learners last 30 minutes and include a virtual read-aloud story and craft activity with a museum educator, as well as a chat about museum resources related to the topic. The minimum number of learners for any virtual story time is 10. Virtual story time is made possible by the support of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. To learn more, visit airandspace.si.edu/storytimes.
New “Learning Guides” provide a week-long plan of activities and resources on aviation and space-related topics. “Learning Guides” are free and can be accessed any time at. The museum also hosts over 70 collections on the Smithsonian’s Learning Lab. These collections are standards-aligned and include connections to the museum’s collection along with lesson plans that support classroom and in-home use. The museum’s Learning Lab content can be accessed at learninglab.si.edu/org/airandspace.
“STEM in 30,” the museum’s webcast series for middle school students recently began its seventh season. The program consists of monthly 30-minute episodes featuring interviews with experts, hands-on demonstrations, and explanations of aviation and space concepts suitable for students grades six through eight. Episodes are released the first Thursday of the month, followed by an Air and Space Live Chat with an expert on that month’s topic the second Thursday of the month, available on Facebook Live or on the museum’s website. “STEM in 30” aligns with Next Generation Science Standards. This season of “STEM in 30” is made possible by the support of Boeing, the Norfolk Charitable Trust, and the Gertrude E. Skelly Charitable Foundation. For the full schedule and archived episodes, visit airandspace.si.edu/STEMin30.
Throughout 2020–2021, the museum will curate digital content on a different topic each month, offering multiple perspectives on a topic and providing programming for a wide range of age groups and interest levels. The new digital content, released every Thursday, will include episodes of “STEM in 30,” live chats, online lectures, virtual family days and episodes of the museum’s “AirSpace” podcast. This fall’s themes are “World War II” in September, “Looking at Earth” in October, “International Space Station” in November and “Naval Aviation” in December.
The National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., is located at Sixth Street and Independence Avenue S.W. The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is located in Chantilly, Virginia, near Washington Dulles International Airport.