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Hands-on learning for all ages

Education Programs

Education Programs

Museum programs for younger patrons exist on many levels, are highly interactive and can be customized to meet specific learning objectives.

Trains and railroads impact our lives each day in many different ways. The railroads helped build our nation and are woven into the history and culture of our country. The National Railroad Museum’s educational programming explores all aspects of railroading with programs for all ages. Whether you visit the Museum or participate in an outreach program, learning about trains and railroads is engaging, challenging and fun. 

Youth/School programs are built in short (5-, 10-, 15-minute) blocks, which contain age-appropriate material. During Youth/School programs discussion is supplemented with hands-on activities and going aboard various locomotives and rail cars.

Basic Youth/School Programs – We offer two basic programs:

Railroad Activity Time

For grades pre-K to 8, ages 4 – 14

This guided program is an interactive experience that introduces students to trains and railroading. The program includes story telling, hands-on activities to demonstrate what trains do and how they work, and a discussion about railroad history, science, and math. Content and program length are based on age and/or size the of the group.

Museum Research Assistant

For ages 3 to 8 and ages 9 – 14)

A tour with a twist. Students work in pairs to research pieces in the collection based on information provided during a guided exploration of the Museum. Additional post-visit questions encourage students to complete further research.

Please Note:

  • Program Time: Please allow a minimum of two hours for basic Youth/School programs.
  • Train Rides: From May – September a train ride can be included as part of the program.
  • Pricing & Availability: Ages 4 – 12: $6.50; Age 12+: $8.50. 

One chaperone is admitted free for every 10 students. Additional adults are welcome at $8.50 each. Basic Youth/School programs are offered throughout the year and a registered on a first-come-first-served basis. Tours are not offered during Museum special events.

Group Registration

For tour date/time availability, please contact the Museum’s Education Director at (920) 437-7623, x-16 or email Bob Lettenberger.

Specialized Programs

History, science, math, literature, art, social science, even music can be studied through the railroads. The National Railroad Museum offers educational programs beyond our basic tour presentations that explore specific topics.

These programs are immersive, hands-on and cater to all age groups. Programs listed here require pre-registration and are offered on the dates indicated. Please register as early as possible, as many of these programs fill to capacity very quickly.

Is there a railroad topic you’d like to discuss? Do you have a classroom lesson that could be supplemented? Might you need a speaker for a dinner, training session or convention? We would be happy to customize a program to fit your needs.

Available to: groups of any age

Availability: Program offered throughout the year (may be limited by staff availability)

Location: Your site

Fee: Please contact the Education Director for fees

Registration: Contact the Education Director at: (920) 437-7623, x-16.

A Day In the Life

Guided by Museum instructors, students learn about the United States during the 1860s. Covering a wide range of material that fulfills many of the Wisconsin Model Academic Standards, this day-long program offers a series of hands-on, educational activities. Activities include: playing the role of a Civil War soldier, laying track on the Transcontinental Railroad, navigating a wagon train along the California Trail, working as a Pony Express rider, surveying and more.

Grades: 3 – 8

May 9, 10, 11, 12, 2017
(Programming begins at 8:45 a.m. and ends at 2:15 p.m.)

Location: At the Museum or at your site

Fee: $7.50 per student

Registration: Contact the Education Director at:
(920) 437-7623, x-16 or rjlett@nationalrrmuseum.org

Future dates for A Day in the Life … include:

  • 2018 – May 8, 9, 10, 11
  • 2019 – May 7, 8, 9, 10
  • 2020 – May 5, 6, 7, 8
Holidays on the Rails

The holidays and trains go together perfectly. Visit the Museum for seasonal stories, crafts, activities, a train ride and a visit with Santa. Students move between numerous activity stations, each featuring an inter-active, hands-on experience.

Grades: pre-K – 2

December 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 2017 (Programming begins at 9:00 a.m. and ends at 2:00 p.m. Please allow 90 min.)

Location: National Railroad Museum

Fee: $5.00 per student

Registration: Email the Education Director at: (920) 437-7623, x-16

A Night in the Hobo Jungle

Catch out as a hobo during this overnight adventure. Learn what it was like to be a hobo during the Great Depression. We’ll speak the hobo language, cook hobo stew, construct Hoover shacks and listen to railroad stories in our hobo jungle. Programming begins Friday or Saturday evenings at 5:30 p.m. and concludes on Saturday or Sunday at 9:00 a.m. Participants may then explore the Museum.

Open to: Any youth/school group

Offered: Friday and Satruday nights in January, February, March and October (Other dates by special arrangement)

Duration: Arrive at 5:30 p.m. first day. Programming concludes at 9 a.m. next day.

Group size: 16 – 50 individuals

Cost: $35.00 per participant, minimum 16 participants or equivalent payment.

Pullman Porters

From Service to Civil Rights Tour and Program

Take an in-depth, guided tour of the exhibit, Pullman Porters: From Service to Civil Rights, followed by engaging discussion and age-appropriate activities. Students will delve into the history of passenger train travel while discovering the role that porters played in the civil and labor rights movements as well as the other American events in the 20th century.

Grades: 3 – adult

Program offered throughout the year (may be limited by staff availability); 120 min. program

Location: National Railroad Museum

Fee: $6.50 (under age 12); $8.50 (age 12+)

Registration: Email the Education Director at: (920) 437-7623, x-16.

Railroad Storytime

Join us for an exciting series of railroad-themed story times. Each week we’ll hear stories, participate in activities and be surprised by special events. There are plenty of take home activities to continue your fun. Parents are encouraged to participate with their children. You don’t have to attend every session.

Follow our blog for upcoming story time dates.

Recommended for ages 3 to 5

Offered: All storytimes begin at 10 a.m.

Duration: Each program lasts 30 to 40 minutes with additional Stay and Play activities afterward

Group size: This program is open to the public and not designed for daycare or school groups

Cost: Museum members: Free; Non-members: One parent/guardian and two children: $5.00 per session.

CLICK HERE for information on the Museum’s Fall Railroad Storytime.

Summer Railroad Camp

It’s a summer camp all about trains! During these five-day camps you’ll enjoy many different activities relating to trains and railroads. You will explore the National Railroad Museum and work with Museum staff members and trained volunteers to learn about trains and railroading. Summer Railroad Camps feature hands-on activities designed to challenge campers in a fun manner. 

For 2017, we will offer three Summer Railroad Camps – our traditional program for ages 8-12, and camps for ages 5-7 and 13-15. Please look below for individual program descriptions.

Junior Engineers boys and girls ages 5 – 7
Offered: August 7-11, 2017 (9:00a.m. – 12:00p.m.)
Camp Capacity: 24 campers
Cost: $55 for Members and $65 for Non-Members

Engineers boys and girls ages 8 – 12
Offered: July 24-28, 2017 (9:00a.m. – 2:00p.m.)
Camp Capacity: 24 campers
Cost: $120 for Members and $130 for Non-Members

Advanced Engineers boys and girls ages 13 – 15
Offered: July 10-14, 2017 (9:00a.m. – 2:00p.m.)
Camp Capacity: 16 campers
Cost: $130 for Members and $140 for Non-Members

To Register: CLICK HERE. Registration begins Friday, February 3, 2017.

For more information: Email the Education Director or call (920) 437-7623, x-16.

Railroading Merit Badge Workshop

Following the merit badge requirements, Scouts participate in a series of six workshops. Successful completion of the activities will earn the Railroading Merit Badge. During this engaging program, we learn about rail safety, how locomotives work, what freight trains carry, how to plan a train trip, railroad signaling and the inner workings of the National Railroad Museum.

Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts (Juniors and above) are welcome to participate. Activities can be applied toward completion of other awards, but will not count for the Railroading Merit Badge.

Open to: all Boy Scouts and adult leaders

Capacity: 300 scouts and 100 adult leaders

Registration:
ALL registration will be completed electronically through the National Railroad Museum website. General Registration will remain open until workshop capacity is reached.

CLICK HERE to Register

Blue Cards: Blue Merit Badge Cards will be provided by the Museum.

Fee: $9.50 per scout and adult

(No prerequisites. Reading the Railroading merit badge book is recommended.)

Future dates for the Railroading Merit Badge Workshop include:


  • 2017 – November 4
  • 2018 – November 3
  • 2019 – November 2
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