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Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Posted by on January 31, 2012

Field Trip: Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
Location: Independence Ave at 6th St, SW
Washington, DC 20560
Contact: 202-633-1000
Grades: PreK and up
Admission: FREE

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About the Museum:

The Museum offers 22 exhibition galleries, the Lockheed Martin IMAX Theater, flight simulators, a three-level Museum shop, and a food-court-style restaurant. Docent tours, daily free educational programs, and school group tours and activities are also available. The Albert Einstein Planetarium presents two shows daily: Cosmic Collisions and Stars Tonight.

Some exhibits worth exploring:

How Things Fly: How does an airplane stay aloft? Why do you become “weightless” in space? These and many other questions are answered in How Things Fly, a gallery devoted to explaining the basic principles that allow aircraft and spacecraft to fly. The emphasis here is “hands-on.” Dozens of exhibits invite you to push, pull, press, lift, slide, handle, touch, twist, turn, spin, bend, and balance. Here you can discover for yourself answers to things you’ve always wondered about flight. You can explore the nature of gravity and air, how wings work, supersonic flight, aircraft and rocket propulsion, flying in space, and more.

Milestones of Flight: The Museum’s grand entry hall showcases a truly awesome collection of historic aircraft and spacecraft that represent epic achievements in aviation and space flight. The place of honor at the center of the gallery is reserved for the 1903 Wright Flyer, which is temporarily on exhibit in its own gallery upstairs. You can even touch a Moon rock here.

Golden Age of Flight: Americans were wild about aviation in the 1920s and ’30s, the period between the two world wars that came to be known as the Golden Age of Flight. Air races and daring record-setting flights dominated the news. Airplanes evolved from wood-and-fabric biplanes to streamlined metal monoplanes. Aircraft displayed here include planes used for racing, record setting, business travel, and exploration.

Space Race: This gallery tells about that U.S.-Soviet space rivalry and its aftermath, from the military origins of the Space Race, through the race to the Moon and the development of reconnaissance satellites, to cooperative ventures between the two former rivals and efforts to maintain a human presence in space. Some of the many highlights include a German V-1 “buzz bomb” and V 2 missile, Soviet and U.S. spacecraft and space suits, a Skylab Orbital Workshop, and a full-size test version of the Hubble Space Telescope.

Moving Beyond Earth: An immersive exhibition that places visitors “in orbit” in the shuttle and space-station era to explore recent human spaceflight and future possibilities. An expansive view of the Earth as viewed from the space station drifts over one gallery wall, while a fly-around tour of the International Space Station fills another wall. A presentation stage for live events, broadcasts and webcasts at the center of the gallery serves as the platform for SpaceFlight Academy, a group quiz game where visitors can test their space smarts and become “flight ready.”


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