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. They are woven into the history and culture of our country. The National Railroad Museum’s education programs explore all aspects of railroading with activities for all ages. Learning about trains and railroads is engaging, challenging, and fun. Learning can take place while you visit the Museum or through an outreach program.
Youth/school programs are built in short (5, 10, or 15 minute) blocks which contain age-appropriate material. During youth/school programs, discussion is supplemented with hands-on activities and walking through various locomotives and rail cars.
Basic Youth/School Programs – We offer two basic programs:
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 storytelling, 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 of the group.
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.
- 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 are registered on a first-come-first-served basis.
- Tours are not offered during Museum special events.
For tour date/time availability, please contact the Museum’s Education Director at (920) 437-7623, x-16 or email Bob Lettenberger at [email protected].
History, science, math, literature, art, social science, and 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. 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.
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 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
ALL registration will be completed electronically through the National Railroad Museum website. General Registration will remain open until workshop capacity is reached.
Blue Cards: Blue Merit Badge Cards will be provided by the Museum.
Fee: $10 (program admission + ticket service fee) for all attendees.
(No prerequisites. Reading the Railroading Merit Badge Book is recommended.)
Future dates for the Railroading Merit Badge Workshop include:
2019 – November 2
2020 – November 7
2021 – November 6
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 7–10, 2019
(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 [email protected]
Future dates for A Day in the Life include:
2019 – May 7, 8, 9, 10
2020 – May 5, 6, 7, 8
2021 – May 4, 5, 6, 7
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 Saturday 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: $45.00 per participant, minimum 16 participants or equivalent payment.
From Service to Civil Rights Tour and Program
Take an in-depth guided tour of the Pullman Porters: From Service to Civil Rights exhibit—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 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.
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.
Recommended for ages 3 to 5
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.
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 and each feature an interactive hands-on experience.
Grades: pre-K – 2
December 10, 11, 12, 13 & 14, 2019 (Programming begins at 9:00 a.m. and ends at 2:00 p.m. Please allow 90 min.)
Location: National Railroad Museum
Registration: Email the Education Director at: (920) 437-7623, x-16