Roadschooling

2016- Fall Roadschooling Trip to Atlanta, GA

We were excited to visit Atlanta, Georgia in the Fall of 2016.  In preparation for our adventure, we took a month before our trip to study the Civil Rights Movement and Puppetry.  All of our hard work paid off threefold when the kids 'wowed' museum guides with their background knowledge and understanding.

Enjoy this collection of photographs from this trip.



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Day One: 
Itinerary:
Travel Day and Georgia Aquarium

Studies:
Marine Biology (Whale Sharks) 
Georgia Aquarium
The Georgia Aquarium has the only display of whale sharks in the United States.  The fish are so large that transport is complex and costly.  Georgia's four whale sharks were all imported from Taiwan and were taken from the commercial fishing quota for the species, usually used locally for food.

The size of the sharks is amazing-  the exhibit meticulously maintained and monitored.  It is truly awe-inspiring to stand in front of these creatures.  The students were mesmerized-- we stayed for a long while and appreciated the whale sharks (and made up names and stories to go along with each one).

The rest of the aquarium was similarly beautifully maintained and curated.  We enjoyed learning about sea lions, dolphins, beluga whales, sea otters and many more species.  
Day Two:
Itinerary:
Civil Rights Museum
World of Coca-Cola

Studies:
Civil Rights
Entrepreneurship & Marketing

Center for Civil and Human Rights
This was a powerful and intense place to be.  The older girls (3rd/4th grade) were able to absorb a lot more than the kindergartener.  I would definitely recommend this museum for middle school age and up.  We skipped a lot of the more visceral and sensory-based exhibits.

We spent time learning and thinking about the four schoolgirls (Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Carol Denise McNair) who were victims of the 16th Street Church bombing in Birmingham. 
World of Coca-Cola
If there ever was a "Now for something completely different....." prize, it would go to this.  We needed a mental break from some of the heaviness of the center, and this was just the ticket.  

Entering, each ticketholder received a cold bottle of Coca-Cola.  After politely refusing (these kids are trained so well), we decided "when in Rome..." (idiom lesson for the day) and split two bottles between the four of us.  The Marketing part of our lesson could not have been better planned, because the 'introductory film' is a compliation of the best of the best advertisements for Coca-Cola.  

They had several different exhibits that we enjoyed exploring--  we learned all about the invention, initial marketing plan and then how Coca-Cola became widely distributed.  We saw a 4-D film (from stationary seats because....really.... crazy movements!), and we even me the Coca-Cola bear!  There was one exhibit devoted to the "secret recipe" that is in a vault in that very museum.  The favorite room, by far, though was the tasting room.  There were over 100 different options, including  five tasting stations arranged geographically – Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and North America! 

Since our sugar/corn syrup consumption was already at an all-time high for a school day, we figured we'd go ahead and experience!  The kids were actually really good about just taking a sip of each flavor (unless it was awesome).  The girls thought it was pretty funny to stage a "stomachache" photo when we finished up.  No worries-- no stomachaches here! 

 
Day Three:
Itinerary:
Martin Luther King, Jr. Historical Sites 
Center for Puppetry Arts

Studies:
Civil Rights
Puppetry: Jim Henson

Martin Luther King Jr. Historical Sites
We traveled early in the morning to visit the Martin Luther King Jr. Historical Sites.  Unfortunately, the Birth Home was closed for repairs, but it was still really cool to walk up and down the street, imagining what life must have been like for young Martin.  We sat in his father's church and talked with a National Parks guide about what life was like in 1960's Atlanta.  Because we started our day so early, we beat all the school groups (yay!) and were able to walk around the museum and enjoy it without crowds. 

The roses at the eternal flame for MLK Jr and Coretta Scott King were absolutely gorgeous.   We left with our hearts full of hope and light and peace.
Center for Puppetry Arts
We had tickets to see a production of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow".  We arrived with a bit of time before the performance, and asked if we could set up in the lunch room and have a snack.  Unfortunately (or fortunately, as it was...) the lunchroom was full of field trip students.  The staff asked if we would like a private room, and that's how we ended up eating our snack in the very same board room that Jim Henson, Brian Henson and esteemed members of the Puppetry Arts board would sit and meet!  

The production was delightful, and it was really fun to see professionals perform.  The kids had a huge appreciation for the artistry of the puppets and stage design because we had studied (and experienced) a lot of those aspects at home.   

After the performance, we headed back to the hotel to rest a bit.  We had a tour of Jim Henson's collection scheduled for later that afternoon, so we headed back to the museum after a nice rest. 

As luck had it, we were the ONLY ones on the tour.  The tour guide was so impressed with their background knowledge of Jim Henson's career and works.  At one point in the exhibit, he just sat back and took in the joy and excitement of the kids with a huge smile on his face.  We saw amazing puppets from our favorite movies and shows--  they even had a special "Labyrinth" exhibit that we all geeked out about.

This was definitely the FAVORITE stop on our entire trip.
Day Four:
Itinerary:
Zoo Atlanta
Fernbank Museum of Natural History

Studies:
Zoology: Giant Panda
Paleontology: Giant Dinosaurs
Zoo Atlanta
Giant Pandas are something we cannot see in the Midwest, so it was obvious that Zoo Atlanta was one of our 'must-do's' for the Atlanta trip.  We had just missed the panda twins (Mei Lun and Mei Huan, the first pair of surviving giant panda twins ever born in the U.S), but their parents were still on exhibit.  It was another amazing experience to get to be in the presence of such interesting and peaceful animals.  

The zoo was a nice spot.  We enjoyed communing with the animals in the petting zoo area, taking a train ride and seeing a bunch of species that we don't have on exhibit in Minnesota.
Fernbank Museum of Natural History
For our last stop of the trip, we visited the Natural History museum.  Rarely does one get to see how BIG some of the giant dinosaurs actually were.  In the atrium of this museum was an Argentinosaurus defending itself from a surprise attack by Giganotosaurus, while a flock of 21 Pterodaustro and three Anhanguera scatter overhead in reaction to the commotion.  Those giants of the Mesozoic dwarfed us, and it was easy to feel like a tiny mammal beside them!