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Hi Tech!: Science Museums for Students

If science and technology are the driving forces of growth in today’s world, science museums are gateways to the future.

In both academic and industrial fields, experts are emphasizing the importance of teaching students the STEM disciplines: science, technology, engineering and mathematics. And while classroom study is the foundation to understanding these important concepts, hands-on, in-person encounters at museums promise to engage and energize young people to pursue their own interest in the STEM fields.

Engineering, aviation, space travel and other related subjects take center stage at science museums around the country, many of which offer special programming and memorable experiences for student groups.

Museum of Science & Industry


One of the leading institutions of its kind in the country, the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago is a hub of all things STEM. This large museum is full of stimulating exhibitions and interactive science lessons, and it offers a number of special tours and experiences for students. Groups can try their hand at industrial design in the Dream It, Design it, Fab It experience; control numerous historic aircraft in flight simulators; and even participate in a virtual-reality spacewalk. The museum also offers live science shows and behind-the-scenes tours.

Franklin Institute


Since its founding in 1824, the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia has been one of the country’s pre-eminent centers for science education and development. Founded in honor of Benjamin Franklin, America’s “first scientist,” the museum is awash in STEM-focused educational experiences for student groups. Students can walk through an oversize model of a human heart, discovery the physics behind electricity or try engineering with simple machines. The permanent exhibits can be complemented by live science shows, hands-on workshops, Imax movies, planetarium experiences and more.

Tech Museum of Innovation

San Jose, California

The explosive growth of the technology industry in Silicon Valley has put California’s Bay Area in the epicenter of America’s STEM movement. At the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, California, students get introduced to the people, technologies and skills that have blazed the trail to the amazing world of the 21st century. Galleries offer interactive opportunities for exploring modern-day science subjects, and science and innovation labs put students in the shoes of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, allowing them to conduct experiments and whet their appetites for developing their own tech creations.

Brian Jewell

Brian Jewell is the executive editor of The Group Travel Leader. In more than a decade of travel journalism he has visited 48 states and 25 foreign countries.