3,2,1, Blast Off!! To some extent our field trip here was a lucky accident. We were heading home from a trip to Pennsylvania (look for several field trip posts from there coming soon) and stopped near the Virginia border to spend the night and break up the trip back home. Just before arriving at our hotel we passed the NASA Wallops Flight Facility Visitors Center. We did a little checking (cell phones and Google do make life easier) and realized that the visitors center was free and would fit in really well with our history this month as we are discussing the space race. So the next morning we stopped in for about an hour to check it out.
The Visitors Center is fairly small but has lots of great information and exhibits as well as an observation deck. On the day we were visiting there was a school group there launching air powered bottle rockets. We were able to get a great view of the bottle rocket launching from the observation deck.
There was a nice area for small children with a short video and some hands on rocket building activities as well as posters and models about various space equipment and missions. There was even a giant globe which played a movie about ecology.
Outside of the visitor’s center were several real rockets and other equipment on display. This was my oldest son’s favorite part because it really gave you a better understanding of the scope and size of the equipment. It’s not nearly as impressive as Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where it can take days to tour and visit the facility-at significant cost, but if you’re on the DelMarVa peninsula it’s a cool stop. Check out their launch schedule if you have some flexibility in travel and maybe you can see a launch!
If you are just touring the center with your family I would suggest planning to spend one to two hours. However, they also offer some great free educational opportunities for schools and homeschool groups. I would love to go back and participate in some one of the great hands on field trip opportunities and possibly even a behind the scenes tour of the Flight Facility.
All in all this was a fun field trip that tied in well to our studies and you can’t beat the price. I suggest checking it out if you are in the area.
Where: NASA Wallops Visitor Center Building J-20 Wallops Island, VA 23337
Hours of Operation:
July 1 – August 31 Daily 10-4 PM
September – June Tuesday-Saturday 10-4 PM
Homeschool Discount: N/A
Food: There were spots available to picnic on the grounds but very little food available on site other than astronaut ice cream in the gift shop.
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