Imagine Nebraska in your head. Are you picturing endless rows of cornfields? Well, there’s much more to Nebraska than just corn and wide-open spaces. Did you know Kool-Aid originated here? See what else is unique about Nebraska.
Take Your Group Way Back When
Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer in Grand Island brings you back to the 1890s. The museum features life on the prairie with historic homes and businesses. Historical interpreters dress in pioneer period clothes and share their experiences with student visitors. Writing a letter to a townsperson, watching the blacksmith and reading a good old-fashioned 1890s newspaper are a few student favorites.
University of Nebraska State Museum in Lincoln offers many scientific discoveries. Mueller Planetarium explores the mysteries of space and its constellations with its Fulldome Digital Theatre. At Marx Science Discovery Center, students can investigate science using different senses, giving them the opportunity to touch whichever discovery catches their eye. For instance, students can see what a beaver dam is like. Take a glimpse at dinosaur fossils and remains straight from Nebraska at the Mesozoic Gallery and visit the “dig-site.” The Explore Evolution exhibit delves into the evolution process from the smallest organisms to the largest.
International Quilt Study Center and Museum in Lincoln stitches you in to the world of quilts. Its mission is to inspire an understanding of the cultural and artistic significance of quilts by collecting, preserving, studying, exhibiting and promoting discovery of quilts and the quiltmaking tradition from many cultures. It’s the perfect exhibit for artistic souls.
Malcolm X, a key civil rights activist, was born and raised in Omaha. Malcolm X Foundation at his childhood home provides programs and events for students. This year they’re sponsoring a two-day Black History 101 Mobile Museum. Events change year to year, so make sure to check the website for upcoming events.
Hastings Museum is located in Hastings, the birthplace of Kool-Aid. The Kool-Aid: Discover the Dream exhibit explores the life of the creator, Edwin Perkins, and how he made it known internationally.
Get a Bird’s Eye View of Nebraska’s Animals
Kreycik Elk and Buffalo Ranch raises elk and buffalo in the Niobrara River Valley. On covered wagon tours go through the meadows where the elk and buffalo herds graze. Activities include hand feeding buffalos and petting elk. Observe other wildlife, such as the fallow deer.
Wessel’s Living History Farm gives students a hands-on look at life on the farm in the 1920s. The farm demonstrates everyday chores such as cooking chicken dinners on the wood-burning stove and feeding the barnyard animals. The grounds consist of a farm house, granary, outhouse, church and one-room school house.
Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, one of the top-ranked zoos in the world, has a variety of educational wildlife opportunities. Around the World Guided Tours give you the option of virtually exploring the ocean, rainforest, desert or safari. Living Classrooms broaden students’ critical thinking skills with interactive activities focusing on either ocean or rainforest animals (or specifically penguins, if you have a special interest in these feathered creatures). Student Workshops go in-depth on topics like sharks, animal behaviors, behavioral husbandry or amphibians. Animal Encounter Presentation allows students to get up close and personal with an animal of their choice.
Riverside Discovery Center in western Nebraska is aimed at younger students, with programs that explore the anatomy of different species and their classes. Amazing Amphibians versus Remarkable Reptiles? Fantastic Feet? Hats Off to Bats? The Word on Birds? The programs not only have a catchy name, but a fun edge to teaching students the basic facts on the animals that roam our earth.
More Than Meets the Eye Exhibits
Joslyn Art Museum paints a picture with programs to provide artistic knowledge. Art that Tells Stories explores myths, legends and mysteries related to various cultures’ artwork. City Life, USA looks at scenic photographs and paintings, from high-rise buildings to villages. Learn how artwork was made in the How Did They Do That? exhibit. The Native American and Western Art collections display drawings and prints with connections to the Lewis and Clark expedition. An art-making activity is available for students to showcase their talents.
Appealing to all age groups, Ashland’s Strategic Air and Space Museum is an attraction to add to your Nebraska itinerary. Visit the Heartland Astronaut exhibit, which shows highlights of Nebraskan native Clay Anderson’s astronomical career. On display are the Apollo Boilerplate, a nonfunctioning version of a rocket spacecraft used for testing before the actual craft is made, and the Atlantis Shuttle Trainer, used to train astronauts on spacecraft switches.
Durham Museum, one of the finest Art Deco architectural wonders in the U.S., used to be home to Union Station in Omaha. Now, students from across the country travel to view its architecture and learn about historical structures like the Omaha Indian earth lodge and the Trans-Mississippi Exhibition building. Explore an original Indian tipi and restored train cars to get a feel for Nebraska history.
Carhenge in Alliance is a replication of England’s Stonehenge formed from vintage American automobiles. The cars are stacked in a way similar to the original stones and with beautiful sunrises and sunsets, the piece serves for an awesome photo-op and inspiration for artistic students of all mediums.
If you’re looking for a great state to show your students, consider Nebraska. With almost too many exhibits to choose from and a variety of species to observe, Nebraska will leave students thirsting for more knowledge.