For Midwestern or Southeastern middle school classes, Memphis is a hop, skip, and a jump to exciting educational opportunities. With history dating before the Civil War and a culture rooted in music, Memphis is educational on interdisciplinary fronts, to say the least. So if you're within driving distance, and you're searching for the perfect field trip destination for your middle schoolers, look no further than Memphis!
National Civil Rights Museum
The Civil Rights Movement is first introduced to young students in middle school so this would be the perfect time to sink your students into the history of the nation. Memphis saw trouble in its day, but it also raised many leaders to fight back the tide of hate and aggression with peace and non-violent protest such as Benjamin Hooks and Maxine Smith. Memphis' NCRM was established in 1991 in a significant building, the former Lorraine Motel where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in 1968. Within the rooms are interactive and poignant exhibits on the history of Civil Rights in America going all the way back to the first instances of slavery in the colonies. There are five permanent exhibits, over 250 artifacts, and more than 40 video displays and films to clearly portray the truth of the issue.
Memphis Rock N' Soul Museum
We're sure your middle school students would enjoy a field trip inside the world of music! They will learn that Memphis was the home of Elvis "The King" Presley, where many stars first earned their status among celebrities and rock stars, and where music evolved from the "oldies" to the rock and soul they all know and love. Located on famous and historic Beale Street, the Rock N' Soul Museum lays out the history and evolution of music from the Rural Culture and Music of the Mississippi Delta to the influence of Sun Records and Youth Culture in the city. Learn about music greats like B.B. King, Elvis, and Roy Orbison, and explore even the history of America and learn how music helped heal a country in civil distress.
Pink Palace Museum
A single glance at the Pink Palace is enough to tell you it's not like any other museum. A sprawling mansion of pale pink, the aptly named Pink Palace Museum started as a private home to the founder of the Piggly Wiggly chain of grocery stores, Clarence Saunders. Today it's owned and operated by the Pink Palace Family of Museums which also maintains a handful of other landmark homes and museums in Memphis. Inside the mansion, your group will have free reign to explore everything from the science of nature to the cultural history of Memphis, the history of the Pink Palace, and more. There's also a full 3D theater and a planetarium that performs daily.
C.H. Nash Museum at Chucalissa
Formerly known as the Chucalissa Indian Village, the C.H. Nash Museum is an active archaeological cultural site with roots in the 15th century. The Native American history on the site is what is known as a Walls Phase mound site dating from 1000 to 1500 AD and renowned nationwide for its abundance of well-preserved remains, architectural and otherwise. The museum and other educational facilities on site are operated with the help of the University of Memphis, and the park includes a nature trail, arboretum, an interactive archaeology lab, the real-life mound complex, and wonderfully educational exhibits that explore the history of Native Americans and prehistoric civilizations in North America.
Memphis Railroad & Trolley Museum
On the first floor of the Memphis Central Station, you'll encounter the history of the Memphis railroad system. With a transportation and trade history steeped in the railroad tradition, Memphis has an enduring love for the locomotive. The Memphis Railroad and Trolley Museum showcases the variety of the rails with artifacts including an ATCS Monitor, railroad tools, a full-size trolley exhibit, and a train simulator.
Fire Museum of Memphis
Located in an old Fire Engine House No. 1, the Fire Museum of Memphis is the best of its kind in the entire country. Not only does this wonderful museum enlighten on fire safety, it showcases the history of fire fighting. The Fire Museum of Memphis was the first of its kind to examine data on fire prevention and effectiveness and showcase this knowledge to the general public through exhibits and regular demonstrations. Here, you can explore exhibits holding artifacts like early American and European fire fighting helmets, historic fire engines, antique fire fighting toys, and a safe fire demonstration room which simulates the effects of a burning building. You will also find a memorial wall to the firefighters of Memphis who have died in the line of duty.
Shelby Farms Park
Chances are, your students will have visited a zoo and a city park in their time but they've never seen anything like Shelby Farms Park. Five times the size of Central Park, Shelby Farms has a multitude of activities and attractions beyond the natural setting, giving your group plenty of options for an educational and fun afternoon trip outdoors. Firstly, you have the Shelby Farms Greenline, trails, and a Woodland Discovery Playground to enjoy nature in its finest setting. However, you also have the option to enjoy it from above with the Go Ape Treetop Adventure Course with zip lines and rope courses, as well as a laser tag, paintball, and disc golf course. Finally, the piece de resistance is the herd of buffalo roaming the park. Come and learn about the ecology and environmental aspects, then the biology and conservation practices of the buffalo on-site, and finish your trip with a laser tag session.