- In the age of apps and selfies, getting your kids to appreciate the world beyond the 2D screen is becoming an increasing challenge. Enter Alisa Abecassis, the founder of the Explore All 50 States Project. Alisa's a single mom who turned her desire to make lasting family memories with her children into a mission to help others explore the cultural richness and history of America.
With a goal to visit all 50 states in the U.S., Alisa started her own website, exploreall50.com, which captures detailed accounts of her themed road trips across America, along with helpful tips and articles to make the most of your family's travels. So far, she and her three children have visited 42 states, with only eight to go.
Recently, Alisa shared her favorite "3D" educational adventures, where kids can pull their eyes away from their smartphones and tablets and get in touch with a real sense of place and history:
- Brown vs. The Board of Education National Historic Site - Topeka, KS -- "Besides being the only National Historic Site named for a court case, it is also one of the best places to immerse oneself in the struggle to end segregation. This is the original school building that was at the center of the controversy and it's frozen in time with placards differentiating areas for white and colored students. Now it serves as a testament to the hard-won progress of the Civil Rights Movement. Through wonderful multimedia presentations and thoughtful and engaging exhibits visitors are transported to that moment in time and encouraged to explore their feelings on both sides of the color line."
- The Old North Church on the Freedom Trail - Boston, MA - "Walking into the Old North Church is to channel the spirit of those rebellious colonists whose bravery and cunning led to the birth of our great nation. Sit in the pews where our founding fathers worshiped and plotted knowing that you are seeing exactly what they saw as they considered their fate and the actions they needed to take to secure their freedom. The lanterns that signaled 'one if by land, two if by sea' hung in the church steeple above. All at once, you realize that the drama of the American Revolution is not just a great story, but it really happened right here, sparked by ordinary people who rose to do the extraordinary in the fight for freedom. We owe who we are today to their bravery."
- The Bonneville Dam - Cascade Locks, OR - "This is a wonderful two-for-one learning experience. First, learn all about how electricity is generated by the Columbia River as it passes through the turbines in the hydroelectric dam. At the same time, you will also learn about salmon in the Columbia River and their migration to and from the ocean during the course of their life cycle. Most fascinating is the engineering of the 'fish ladders' to enable the salmon to cross over the dam without getting caught in the turbines. Watch live salmon pass in front of a large viewing window as they are counted by a dam employee to keep track of numbers and species. It's an amazing experience to witness a salmon coming into view -- you cannot believe how big they are! A wonderful science lesson in that it takes place in a real world application that everyone can understand."
- Ingalls Homestead - De Smet, ND - "You don't need to have read any of Laura Ingalls Wilder's books to appreciate what life was like as a homesteader out on the South Dakota prairie. The Ingalls Homestead (pictured below) has been preserved just as it was during the family's time here. With the help of costumed guides you can experience what life was like for Laura and her family as you pump water from the well, wash clothes in the original washing machine, attend school in the schoolhouse and tend the animals in the barn. The Ingalls Homestead is what is known as a living history museum, a place to learn by experience. By taking part in real life activities, visitors gain a greater appreciation for the often difficult life of those brave pioneers who were encouraged to settle here through grants of free land by the government."
- Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza - Dallas, TX - "Walking out into the crosswalk in Dealey Plaza one quickly notices the two Xs that mark the spot where bullets struck President John F. Kennedy as his motorcade moved through the city. It's one thing to read about that event in a textbook, and even more to see it on the infamous Zapruder film. It is another thing entirely to stand there in person, absorbing the sites and sounds imagining that moment in time. The adjacent museum dedicated to the events surrounding the assassination is located in the book depository where Lee Harvey Oswald took that fateful shot. Standing on the 6th floor is the exact location where Oswald stood and took aim. Behind protective glass, the small area has been kept exactly as it was on that fateful day. The energy of that moment is frozen in time and to see it is to be transported in a way that no history lesson can ever convey."
Follow Alisa and the Explore All 50 States Project on Facebook and Twitter, or subscribe to her Explore All 50 Newsletter.
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