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6 Kid-Friendly U.S. Aviation Museums

I was sold on flying as soon as I had a taste for it.” – John Glenn

6 Kid-Friendly U.S. Aviation MuseumsMany young STEMists are curious about flight – whether they are watching how a bird flies or making a paper airplane that floats around the room. As you think about your summer vacation plans, consider visiting one of the many aviation museums around the U.S. Not only will your kids learn more about aviation, you and the entire family will have fun doing it. And, museums are much cheaper than theme park tickets!

Here are six U.S. aviation museums to investigate for your next STEM Family vacation:

#1: Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, Washington, D.C.

The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum is the largest of the Smithsonian’s 19 museums. Its collection includes Saturn V rockets, Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis and the Apollo 11 Command Module, Columbia. Be sure to check out the Albert Einstein planetarium, where you will feel like you are zooming across the skis. The Smithsonian offers daily tours and educational activities for every member of the family.

Apollo 11 Command Module

Apollo 11 Command Module

#2: Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles International Airport, Chantilly, VA

The Udvar-Hazy Center is a companion center to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. Located at Dulles International Airport, the center features two large hangars that contain thousands of aviation and space artifacts. Visitors to the Udvar-Hazy Center can see a Concorde jet, the space shuttle Discovery and panoramic views of Dulles International airport. Like at the Smithsonian, you can enjoy daily tours, lectures, events and educational activities.

Space Shuttle Discovery

Space Shuttle Discovery

#3: Virginia Air and Space Center, Hampton, VA

The Virginia Air and Space Center serves as the visitor center for NASA Langley Research Center and Langley Air Force Base. The center celebrates more than 100 years of flight with fun and interactive exhibits, including launching a rocket, piloting a space shuttle and flying an airplane. The Virginia Air and Space Center also has an Apollo 12 Command Module, Mars meteorite and a moon rock. Also check out a movie in the center’s 3D IMAX theater and take a spin on the Hampton Carousel, a restored carousel that is near the air and space center.

The Virginia Air and Space Center

Aviators look younger and younger these days! Photo Credit: Mate Kitt

#4: San Diego Air and Space Museum, San Diego, CA

Located in Balboa Park in San Diego, the Air and Space Museum is a “must-stop” destination if you are traveling to Southern California. The museum emphasizes San Diego’s contribution to the field of aviation, so many of the exhibits focus on war aircraft, and modern jet and space travel. Some of the galleries include the World War I Gallery, Golden Age of Flight Gallery, World War II Gallery and Modern Jet & Space Age Gallery. Be sure to check out the flight simulators if you have a strong stomach! Lectures, student programs and other events are available.

PSA Flight Attendant Uniforms

PSA Flight Attendant Uniforms – Air and Space Museum, San Diego, CA

#5: The Museum of Flight, Seattle, WA

Biplane Tours - The Museum of Flight, Seattle, WA

Biplane Tours – The Museum of Flight, Seattle, WA

The Museum of Flight has more than 150 air and space craft on display, including the world’s first fighter plane, the first Air Force one and the Blackbird spy plane (the world’s fastest aircraft).
The museum also has several flight simulators, including the Voyager simulator, which is perfect for kids ages 4-11. If you are feeling especially adventurous, you can board a real vintage bi-plane and take an aerial tour of Seattle. Be sure to check out the museum’s special events, including their annual Women Fly! event for young women interested in aviation and aerospace careers.

#6: Southern Museum of Flight, Birmingham, AL

The Southern Museum of Flight is a 75,000-square-foot facility that contains more than 90 types of aircraft, as well as engines, models and other aviation artifacts. Museum visitors can check out the Korean War Jets Exhibit, Tuskegee Airmen Exhibit, Vietnam War Helicopters Exhibit and more. Kids may enjoy the flight simulator and climbing the many displays. Additionally, the museum is adjacent to the Alabama Aviation Hall of Fame, whose members include Wilbur & Orville Wright and NASA astronaut Jan Davis.

Southern Museum of Flight, Birmingham, AL

Huff-Daland Duster crop duster of Delta Air Corporation, Monroe, LA

Aviation is one of the many great careers available to STEMists, so be sure to foster their natural curiosity with a trip to an aviation museum. Please check each museum’s event calendar, admission price and hours of operation before your trip to ensure you get the most out of your visit. Most importantly, have fun and make wonderful memories with your groovy STEM Family!

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Every month subscribing STEMists (kids ages 8+) receive our groovy, retro style Groovy Lab in a Box that contains hours of exciting STEM fun and engineering design challenges.   Each box is carefully put together and filled with theme-specific objects that make up our Groovy Lab in a Box. Many STEMists don’t realize that there is more to the friendly, retro Groovy Lab in a Box packaging than meets the eye. So, who puts our Groovy boxes together?  Employees of the non-profit Versability Resources of Virginia get the job done.

Pride in Our Box

“Groovy Lab in a Box is proud to partner with VersAbility Resources to ensure our subscribers receive their completed box delivered right to their STEMists’ door,” said Elaine Hansen, co-founder of Groovy Lab in a Box.

Since 1953, VersAbility Resources has been helping individuals with disabilities gain independence through work and living experience to help them lead fuller, richer lives. VersAbility creates opportunities for individuals to make the most of their abilities, contribute to society, and enjoy the satisfaction of working and earning their own living. “There is much excitement when the new boxes are being built,” said Laurie Williams, Senior Operations Manager.  “A job filled with a colorful variety of elements like Groovy Lab in a Box work is fascinating.”

VersAbility Resources

The VersAbility business services team carefully assembles all the Groovy Lab in a Box parts, including every electronic, Groovy lab notebook, pipette, battery and other materials that make up the themed Groovy Lab in a Box. VersAbility now serve over 1,400 people with disabilities and their families each year in employment, community living, day support, and early childhood programs explained Williams.

“There is planning discussion in the weeks leading up to the fulfillment with Groovy Lab in a Box creators to collaborate and design the best product while keeping in mind any special needs of the business services staff. The process to assemble the boxes is collaborative with some people building smaller elements that make up the box.  Other individuals may make the box itself, while someone else is putting the final touches on placing all the products in the box,” said Williams.  “The work between VersAbility Resources and a customer is a true collaboration that can enhance a great product through the fulfillment and delivery.  We have an excellent relationship with Groovy Lab in a Box, which makes for an amazing product and an enjoyable work relationship.”

VersAbility’s goal is to help people obtain meaningful work opportunities and participate fully in their communities.  The business services aspect is only one of several services available through the non-profit.  Other services that provide VersAbility participants the opportunity to earn a living and lead an independent life include bulk mailings, publishing, linen and food services, community service, summer camp counseling and more.

Monica Canavan, co-founder of Groovy Lab in a Box said, “Groovy Lab in a Box places great value on VersAbility’s vision that helps to improve the quality of life at work, home, and in play for persons with disabilities at all levels.”

So, the next time you find your STEMists’ Groovy Lab in a Box on your doorstep or in your mailbox, know that the assembly of all its parts was carefully and proudly packaged by individuals who may have a disability, but have an enormous heart and display great pride in their work.

Subscribe to Groovy Lab in a Box or check out a Single Box today to help your STEMists continue to stimulate their science, technology, engineering, and mathematic abilities.

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