A couple of years ago when we were studying astronomy, we went on the most awesome NASA field trip ever. If you’re homeschooling in Texas, then you should plan a NASA field trip on homeschool day. It’s usually somewhere in October, and well worth going. It also made for a great science lesson that made all of our science for the past several months REAL.
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Look up details ahead of your NASA field trip
If you are going for the NASA homeschool field trip day, you NEED to register ahead of time. You can 100% show up on the day and have a great day. That’s totally what we did. HOWEVER, there are some amazing labs you can sign up for (and pay for) ahead of time, and they fill up almost a month ahead of time.
If you’re not going on homeschool day, then you don’t need to plan as far in advance. You can look at the schedule the day before you go, or once you get there. They also have an app you can download to your phone that has a map, and the schedule for the day. I’ve found downloading the app for a field trip location can be amazingly helpful to plan our day. I cannot emphasize how awesome they are.
The collage is Batman getting a chance to pretend to live on the International Space Station and him walking through the day. There are all sorts of special presentations throughout the day to try out on your NASA field trip (I loved listening to an astronaut talk about his trip to space).
What to see on your NASA field trip: traditional museum exhibits
You will see the traditional museum exhibits detailing our journey to the moon. I particularly loved looking at the moon rock, and getting to smell what it smelled like when they first got it. That was the interesting part, when they first brought it aboard the shuttle, it had a peculiar smell. Over time it lost the smell, and so they made a simulated version of it.
That fascinates me.
Take the time to enjoy this exhibit, but for obvious reasons, it is not the most interesting part of the NASA field trip.
In addition to the journey to the moon, there are some rotating exhibits. When we visited they had a model of the shuttlecraft Galileo from the original Star Trek. I was obviously super excited about that (you know cause I’m a total nerd and love Star Trek. Examples here: Homeschooling the Final Frontier, Being a Homeschool Nerd, using Deep Space Nine to teach the caste system, and Darmok to teach about Sumerian mythology, oh and D is for Deep Space Nine).
Have fun with the hands-on exhibits on your NASA field trip
They have some amazing hands-on exhibits at NASA. You can “fly” a space shuttle, see what it would be like to be on Mars or the moon, or build all sorts of fun projects.
In the NASA museum, easily 1/3 to 1/2 of the museum is hands on. Enjoy all the stuff you can tough. I’m not going to inflict on you pictures of all the amazing exhibits, but it kept the attention of my kids and we barely squeezed in time to visit the headquarters because they were having so much fun.
Make sure you visit Space command on your NASA field trip
This is why you need to know the schedule. Mission command can only be reached as part of a scheduled tour. We barely made the very last tour of the day, and it is amazing. You get to see the first computers they used, like what is seen in the movie Hidden Figures. You got to see Mission Command, where they talk to Apollo 13. It’s rather amazing to realize the phone I keep in my pocket has more raw computing power than the entire room of computers.
After seeing the actual real-life version of so many movie sets you get to move on and see a rocket, as well as some great quotes from various people related to NASA. My amateur photography won’t give you a true idea of the scale of these amazing rockets.
And of course, take the cheesy vacation photos while on your NASA field trip
One of the most amusing photos was everyone posing inside of the astronaut suit. Even if Batman is looking super serious here, he had a blast there and insisted I get his picture. There are several places you can get pictures like this, and I highly recommend giving it a try.
More fun Texas Field Trips
- Austin Area Field Trips
- World War 2 sub
- Austin Aquarium
- Austin Science and Nature Center
- Moody Aquarium