Science plays a huge role in education from the youngest kindergartners playing in the sandbox to high school and college students forming their own experiments. There are, however, so many science-related museums and attractions around the U.S. that it can be hard to sift through and find the best. Because of this, we've separated out a few of the top picks per scientific field. Enjoy!
- National Air and Space Museum - Washington, D.C. - Part of the Smithsonian family, the National Air and Space Museum is a fantastic and wonderfully curated selection of aviation, engineering, and astronomy-related objects. Physics students will enjoy seeing the science in action and in history. Visit the Spirit of St. Louis, the original Wright Flyer, and the Apollo 11 Command Module among others.
- Museum of Science and Industry - Chicago - The largest museum of its kind this side of the globe, Chicago's premiere science museum showcases physics exhibits such as the building of the pyramids, the physics of storms, and more. See the science behind pinball machines, the strange movement of sound, and discover mathematical problems in the natural world.
- Museum of Life and Science - Durham, NC - Durham's fantastic science museum is, unlike others on this list, predominately intended for children. If your group is primary and elementary school age, the Museum of Life and Science is a wonderful field trip destination. Everything about life is explained from the dinosaurs of the past to modern-day wildlife, health, and hygiene, as well as math, sound, and weather.
- Nature Walks at National/State Parks - Nature is the ultimate teacher and you'll discover this in full at the stunningly beautiful national and state parks around the country. Find your nearest park and schedule a group tour with a ranger to get the best and most complete information about the park's ecology and wildlife. We like Yellowstone and the Everglades, but any park will do the trick.
Earth Science & Natural History
- Colburn Earth Science Museum - Asheville, NC - The earth is full of beauty and science, a good portion of which is recorded in this interactive Asheville museum. Here you can explore earth history through geology and fossils, minerals, and volcanology, the history of mining and gemstones, as well as what makes the weather.
- American Museum of Natural History - NYC - One of the largest natural history museums in the U.S., New York's own looks at everything from the biodiversity of ecosystems to wildlife, gemstones and minerals, life science, and paleontology with an impressive collection of dinosaur fossils. Also, visit the Rose Center for Earth and Space which effectively shows the size and reach of earth life in the grand scheme of the universe.
- Brooklyn Botanic Garden - NYC - Botanical gardens are incredible learning opportunities masked in the supreme beauty of floral diversity. Brooklyn Botanic Gardens are among the oldest, best, and most beautiful gardens in the U.S. and offer a plethora of educational experiences for groups. Learn all about the various plant species, what it takes to grow them, and also sustainability practices for more environmental living.
- Dallas Arboretum & Botanical Garden - Also an incredible botanical garden, this Dallas attraction includes everything you'd expect and more. Find among the flower sections for interactive learning for children and adults with multi-sensory gardens, spectacular waterfall features, and the Rory Meyers Children's Adventure Garden with a puppet theater, petroglyph walk, and a Plants Are Alive section.
- New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science - Albuquerque - If your group loves dinosaurs, where better to see their fossils than where they were excavated? Most of the dinosaurs on display at this fantastic establishment were taken from the New Mexico ground not far away, cleaned and documented in the Fossilworks lab onsite, and displayed for museum patrons. See your favorites and learn how paleontological digs are performed in person!
- La Brea Tar Pits - Los Angeles - Though you won't find a T-rex in the tar of La Brea, you will find dire wolves, saber-tooth cats, and mastodons from the Pleistocene epoch. Explore the tar pits themselves, discover the giant creatures in the Pleistocene Garden, see the excavation in progress, and look down into the Observation Pit!
- San Diego Zoo - Arguably the best zoo in the nation, the San Diego Zoo has been educating the public on international wildlife for 100 years! 2016 is its centennial birthday, making it the perfect opportunity to celebrate with them on a field trip! See the whole wide world of wildlife and visit the many zoological research spots, learn about their progress in animal behavior and environmental work, and their conservation practices through an informative guide.
- St. Louis Zoo - Also ranked as a top American zoo, the St. Louis Zoo is both amazingly informative and free! Visit with your student group and explore the beauty of nature and wildlife from the largest African elephants to the small red pandas and even smaller insects. See the quirky sea lions being fed or their new polar bear playing in the water - he does like to show off for a crowd!