Educational Tourism

Many of the homeschooling books I read early on made it seem like the richest and best homeschool experiences children could have happened in the country. I even remember one new homeschooling mom ask, "Can you homeschool if you live in the city?" I think our children are blessed to live in Seattle, not only so close to so much natural beauty, but with so many educational and cultural opportunities right out our front doors. In fact, a quick look through a Seattle tour guide offers information on top tourist spots that are the gateway to a Seattle-style education.

Boeing Factory Tour: Take a guided tour through the factory and watch airplanes being built. Ideas for further study: Make a chart comparing the different features of all types of Boeing aircraft ~ Create a display that shows how a plane gets made, from design to completion ~ Do a market analysis comparing Boeing and Airbus, looking at their management, marketing, production, employees, sales, and historic stock price ~ Track Boeing's stock over several months; Can you determine what affects the price of the stock? ~ Imagine that Boeing is designing a plane just for you; what do you want to have on/in it? Draw your dream plane ~ Visit the Museum of Flight to learn more about aviation history.

Chittenden Locks and Fish Ladder: A nice escape from the city where you can watch ships going through the locks or see a salmon climb a ladder. Ideas for further study: Visit the locks and fish ladder once a month for several months and graph the number of boats and/or fish you count in a given time ~ Create a display showing the area over time, from before the locks were built to today ~ Using your original drawings, paintings, or photographs, create a calendar showing the seasons of the locks ~ Write a report about the Army Corps of Engineers, including its history, mission, work on the locks, and current activities ~ Draw a chart that shows how the locks operate.

Pike Place Market: Farmer's market, antiques, handmade crafts and the world's first Starbucks. Ideas for further study: How do different businesses market their products? Which seems to be the most successful? ~ Make a list of all the different kinds of businesses at the market ~ Make up a new business for the market; including the name, products, logo, etc. ~ Do different businesses sell the same item for different prices? Find out why ~ Outline the steps it takes for one business to create and sell its products, from inception to sale ~ Plan and cook a meal with items purchased at the market.

Pioneer Square: Seattle's historic area. Ideas for further study: Research what features made the location ideal for platting a city ~ Find out what items of historic import happened in the Pioneer Square area ~ Try to live like the Seattle pioneers for a day, using only the light and fuel sources, food and entertainment available in 1841 ~ Make a photo collage of Pioneer Square buildings and identify the architectural styles of each one ~ Find out the cost of common items available during the Klondike Gold Rush and compare them to today's cost of similar items; What is average percent increase in price?; How much did the price go up each year on average?

Space Needle: A Seattle icon with a terrific view. Ideas for further study: Create a photo exhibit of pictures taken of and from the Space Needle ~ Construct a model of the Space Needle ~ Research the Space Needle's design process; Were other designs considered? How was this design agreed on? ~ Design your own landmark that represents Seattle of 2006 ~ Make a list of the types of people who worked on the Space Needle, from the engineers to the welders, and write a job description for each ~ Draw a graph comparing the Space Needle to other famous manmade landmarks in the world ~ Interview someone who attended the 1962 World's Fair and find out about their first impression of the Space Needle.

Underground Tour: Learn about Seattle's history with a little dose of humor. Ideas for further study: Make a timeline of Seattle history ~ Create a diorama of early Seattle ~ Write a newspaper article as if you were a reporter in early Seattle called "Seattle is Sinking!" ~ Design a science experiment that demonstrates why Seattle sank ~ Design costumes for a play about early Seattle ~ Using interviews, observation and research to find out how your own neighborhood has changed over the last year, decade and century.

Woodland Park Zoo: An award-winning zoo. Ideas for further study: Teach students how animals are classified (kingdom, phylum, class, order, etc.) ~ Compare and contrast different groups of animals ~ Discuss similarities and differences between animals that live in the wild and those that live in a zoo ~ Discuss your family's feelings what people should or shouldn't do to protect endangered animals, as well as what the zoo does in this area ~ Arrange to interview a zookeeper ~ Write a report or a story about your favorite animal ~ Draw a food chain including one or more zoo animal.