Hands-on experiences are one of the best ways to learn more, make great memories and gather new information. This is a list of free activities and field trip locations in Texas, from great works of art to the great outdoors! If you’re a teacher, tutor or a parent looking for free educational opportunities for your curious crew, or to give your students a break from STAAR and TSI test practice, check out one of these free field trip destinations around Texas.

Please note that large groups sometimes require advance reservations; be sure to contact the organization you’re interested in directly for more information.

Select the City



Madam Queen

Visit a real steam locomotive engine built in 1930 for the Santa Fe Railway. During her reign in the Pecos Division, the Madam Queen logged 1,750,000 miles! She was retired from service in 1953 and donated to the City of Amarillo in 1957.

 Operating Hours:

  • Daily, dawn to dusk

 Notes: Please check online before planning a visit to make sure it is still in operation and accessible to the public.

 Visit the website

 Phone: 800-692-1338 (Amarillo Convention and Visitor Council number)

Texas Air and Space Museum

Take flight, little aviators! The Texas Air and Space Museum honors the Texas Panhandle’s history of flight. From photos and newspaper articles dating back to the beginning of English Field Airport to exhibits of aircraft including biplanes and a historic DC-3.

The exhibits displayed in this Museum will attract established aviation fans and create new ones. It is a premier aviation museum to honor servicemen and servicewomen, aviators, and astronauts from pre-World War II to today.

 Operating Hours:

  • Monday-Saturday, 10:00am-4:00pm

 Notes: N/A

 Visit the website

 Phone: 806-335-9159


Corpus Christi

Fulton Schoolhouse Museum

School’s in session at the Fulton Schoolhouse Museum! Learn about the history of Fulton, Texas, 35 miles outside Corpus Christi, by visiting this one-room schoolhouse rebuilt in the 1940s after being damaged by a hurricane. The schoolhouse is set up as it would have been during its use in the early 20th century. The Museum also includes a replica of the Fulton Mansion for visitors to enjoy.

 Operating Hours:

  • Saturday and Sunday afternoons

 Notes: Tours for large groups or schools are available upon request. Contact Town Hall for more information.

Visit the website

 Phone: 361-729-5533

Texas Surf Museum

Go hang 10 at the Texas Surf Museum, the ONLY surf museum in the state of Texas! Explore the history of surfing and learn about Texas’ unique role in that history. Enjoy the photographs that capture the evolution of surf culture and catch a film highlighting the sport. Exhibits underscoring the importance of water conservation and the preservation of beaches, bays, and waterways are also on display.

 Operating Hours:

  • Tuesday-Saturday, 11:00am-7:00pm
  • Sunday, 11:00am-5:00pm
  • Monday, closed

 Notes: Closed Mondays.

 Visit the website

 Phone: 361-882-2364

Port Aransas Ferry

Catch one of the free ferry rides running between Mustang Island and Port Aransas and the mainland. During the short 10 minute ride, watch for boats in the shipping channel and wildlife, including dolphins and pelicans.

 Operating Hours:

  • Daily, dawn to dusk

 Notes: There may be wait times during peak travel periods. Check the website for details and current conditions.

Visit the website

 Phone: 361-749-2850

Walking Tour of Heritage Park

Get some exercise and a lesson in history with a self-guided walking tour of Heritage Park. A collection of 12 historic homes from some of the most important names in Corpus Christi development. From the second oldest structure in existence in Corpus Christi (the Merriman-Bobys House of 1851) to the Guggenheim House (one of the few Victorian homes to survive the Hurricane of 1919 in Corpus Christi), visitors can tour the premises of these homes and read the historic marker in front of each to learn about its role in Corpus Christi history.

 Operating Hours:

  • Daily, dawn to dusk

*For tours of inside some of the homes themselves, please visit the website.

 Notes: Most of the houses do not offer official tours or entry inside the home, but some are open to the public on specific days and times. Please see the website for more information, including hours and possible fees.

Visit the website

 Phone: 361-561-2000 (Corpus Christi Visitor Information Center, located in the Merriman-Bobys house in Heritage Park)



African American Museum, Dallas

Located on the grounds of Fair Park, the African American Museum is dedicated to the preservation and presentation of African American art, artefacts, and historical documents. The Museum’s collection includes examples of fine art, folk art, and African art and rotating exhibits are offered throughout the year. Visitors can view art representing and relating to the African American community and gain perspective on the African American experience, especially in Dallas and the Southwestern United States.

 Operating Hours:

  • Tuesday-Friday, 11:00am-5:00pm
  • Saturday, 10:00am-5:00pm

 Notes: Closed Sundays, Mondays, and holidays; there is a fee for groups of 10 or more – please see the website for details.

 Visit the website

 Phone: 214-565-9026

Dallas Museum of Art (DMA)

The Dallas Museum of Art extends art lovers the opportunity to experience both permanent collections of more than 24,000 pieces of art spanning 5,00 years and visiting exhibitions that rotate regularly. The Museum offers a variety of programs and community workshops and teachers can schedule student visits, teacher workshops, and request a Framework for Engaging with Art materials packet before a planned visit to the Museum.

 Operating Hours:

  • Monday, closed
  • Tuesday-Wednesday, 11:00am-5:00pm
  • Thursday, 11:00am-9:00pm
  • Friday-Sunday, 11:00am-5:00pm

 Notes: Closed Mondays, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day; some exhibitions require ticket purchase.

Visit the website

 Phone: 214-922-1200

Fair Park

Dallas’ Fair Park is a sprawling 277-acres of cultural, educational, and sports facilities accommodating more than 1,200 activities annually. Opened in 1886 to host the Dallas State Fair, the facility has grown over the years and is the only intact and unaltered pre-1950s world fair site in the US.

Explore the Park’s 3 million+ historic documents and objects on display at the Hall of State and gaze at the exemplary examples of 1930s art and architecture. The Park hosts a multitude of free events, including a free summer movie series, the Esplanade Walking Tour, and a Lagoon Walking Tour.

 Operating Hours:

  • Depends on an event.

*Visit the website to plan a trip and check the daily operating times.

 Notes: Some areas of Fair Park require paid tickets. Check the website for a calendar of events and free activities.

Visit the website

 Phone: 214-426-3400

Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas

Who doesn’t love money? But who really understands it? The Economy in Action exhibit at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas offers visitors a self-guided tour to learn about American currency from the Colonial period through the 20th century. Learn about the development of the Federal Reserve banking system and find out how money moves around the country. Understanding the regional economy and the role it plays in the global economy helps visitors understand the role of energy, exports, services, and manufacturing.

 Operating Hours:

  • Monday-Friday, 10:00am-4:00pm

 Notes: Closed on Bank Holidays; groups of 15-40 can schedule one of the guided tours, offered Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10:00am and 1:00pm, but they must be scheduled in advance – contact the Bank for more information or to schedule a tour; all adult guests must present a valid government-issued photo ID.

Visit the website

 Phone: 214-922-5267

John Neely Bryan Cabin and Founder’s Plaza

Hard to believe that the sprawling modern city of Dallas started with one man’s camp by the Trinity River. Visit Founder’s Plaza and see a replica of John Neely Bryan’s log cabin. The Old Dallas Courthouse, in all its Romanesque Revival style glory, stands on the site of the county’s original log courthouse and serves as a museum of Dallas County history and culture. The John F. Kennedy Memorial is open to visitors and Dealey Plaza and the infamous Texas School Book Depository building are a short walk away.

 Operating Hours: 

  • Daily, from 9:00am-5:00pm

 Notes: An audio tour is available for download. Visit the website for more details.

Visit the website

 Phone: Tourist info: 214-571-1316; Events hotline: 214-571-1301

Juanita J. Craft’s Civil Rights House

Honoring civil rights activist Juanita J. Craft, this museum is one of only three house museums in the country honoring major female figures in the modern civil rights movement. The home is a 1920 Craftsman bungalow where Ms Craft lived for 35 years, organizing NAACP events, leading efforts to desegregate Texas universities, and serving as a Dallas city councilwoman.

 Operating Hours:

  • Monday-Friday, 9:00am-5:30pm

 Notes: Tours available by appointment only.

 Visit the website

 Phone: 214-670-8637

Klyde Warren Park

Klyde Warren Park is a 5.2-acre deck park and has quickly become an active space, serving as a central gathering place for the downtown Dallas community. The Park offers daily free programming for the public in its Performance Pavilion and throughout the Park grounds. Educators and families are encouraged to visit the website to learn more about learning opportunities and kid-friendly events.

 Operating Hours:

  • Daily, 6:00am-11:00pm

 Notes: Teachers can download a free TEKS-aligned curriculum guide to help plan a learning-filled visit – see website for pdf link.

 Visit the website

 Phone: 214-716-4500

Pioneer Plaza

If a round-up is what you are looking for, head to Pioneer Plaza and see the life-sized bronze sculpture recreation of a cattle drive, complete with three cowboys on horseback and some big longhorn steers. The Plaza also has a variety of native plants and trees and a flowing stream that includes a waterfall. Historic details on the sculptures help bring Dallas’ cowboy history to life.

 Operating Hours:

  • Daily, dawn to dusk

 Notes: N/A

 Visit the website

 Phone: 214-953-1184

The Samurai Collection at The Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Museum

Immerse yourself in Japanese culture and experience beautifully crafted masterpieces of battle with a visit to the Samurai Collection of Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller. The collection includes over 1,000 samurai objects including armor, weapons, helmets, masks, and horse armor and equipment.

The museum is located on the second floor of the historic Saint Ann Building. Self-guided tours allow visitors to learn about samurai culture and history.

 Operating Hours:

  • Tuesday, 11:00am-8:00pm
  • Wednesday-Saturday, 11:00am-6:00pm
  • Sunday, 11:00am-5:00pm

 Notes: Closed on Mondays.

Visit the website

 Phone: 214-965-1032

The Trammell and Margaret Crow Collection of Asian Art

Travel to the Orient without leaving Dallas. Trammell and Margaret Crow have been collecting Asian art since the 1960s and their collection is now housed in the Crow Collection Museum. From Korean ceramics to Buddhist and Hindu art, the collection is extensive and covers the regions of China, Japan, India, and Southeast Asia. While there, escape to the serenity of the sculpture garden, complete with 15 contemporary and historical pieces nestled among the bamboo, maples, azaleas, and pine.

 Operating Hours:

  • Tuesday-Sunday, 10:00am-5:00pm

 Notes: Closed Mondays, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day; the galleries may be closed due to special events or inclement weather – call or check the museum’s Facebook page or Twitter account for up-to-date information; Admission is free, though donations are always appreciated.

 Visit the website

 Phone: 214-979-6440


El Paso

Centennial Museum and Gardens

There’s a lot of life in the desert! The El Paso Centennial Museum, the oldest museum in El Paso, features exhibits focusing on the natural and cultural history of the Chihuahuan Desert region and its settlement by people through the centuries. The Museum hosts a variety of collaborative exhibits for the community – check the website for an updated calendar of events. The friendship that exists between the University of Texas, El Paso, and the country of Bhutan can be seen in the Lhakhang exhibit, a hand-carved, hand-painted gift from the people of Bhutan to the people of the United States and residing currently at the UTEP campus. The Museum Gardens display the wide variety of flora found in the Chihuahuan Desert and adjacent desert regions in the US and Mexico.

 Operating Hours:

  • Centennial Museum: Monday-Saturday, 10:00am-4:30pm (closed Sundays, holidays, and during UTEP football games)
  • Chihuahuan Desert Gardens: Open daily from dawn to dusk
  • The Lhakhang: Wednesday 11:00am-1:00pm, first Sunday of each month, 1:00pm-3:00pm

 Notes: N/A

Visit the website

 Phone: 915-747-5565

Chamizal National Memorial

The United States and Mexico found themselves embroiled in border disputes for many years. Chamizal, managed by the National Park Service, serves as a reminder of the harmonious settlement of a 100-year border dispute between the two nations caused by a change in course of the Rio Grande.

Here, the cultures of the two countries are presented and celebrated in a Cultural Center located on Park grounds. The Franklin G. Smith Gallery is also open to visitors. Hike and explore this desert gem. Events and festivals open to the public, some fees may apply – check the website.

 Operating Hours:

  • Park Hours: Daily, 7:00am-10:00pm
  • Visitor’s Center Hours: Daily, 10:00am-5:00pm

 Notes: Periodic weather events may lead to the closure of the Park – please check the website for alerts and closures.

Visit the website

 Phone: 915-532-7273

El Paso County Historical Society

The El Paso County Historical Society was established in 1954 to preserve and share the history of El Paso with the public. With headquarters housed in the historic Burges House, built in 1912, the Historical Society has amassed a large collection of photographs and documents from El Paso’s early days and shows the development of the area from a small village of adobe buildings to a full-scale modern city.

 Operating Hours:

  • Monday-Friday, 10:00am-2:00pm

 Notes: Admission is free, but donations are encouraged.

Visit the website

 Phone: 915-533-3603

El Paso Holocaust Museum and Study Center

The world must never forget. As the memories of World War II fade into history, the only fully bilingual Holocaust museum in the United States, the El Paso Holocaust Museum, works to keep alive the memories of the millions of people murdered by the Nazi regime from 1933-1945. Several multimedia galleries provide a timeline of the events of the Holocaust and present information to visitors in both English and Spanish.

 Operating Hours:

  • Saturday-Sunday, 1:00pm-5:00pm
  • Monday, closed
  • Tuesday-Friday, 9:00am-5:00pm

 Notes: All self-guided tours must begin 30 minutes prior to scheduled closing times; check the website for holidays when the Museum will be closed; trained volunteers can be scheduled to visit schools or groups unable to visit the Museum; curriculum trunks available by reservation for groups planning a trip to the Museum.

 Visit the website

 Phone: 915-351-0048

El Paso Museum of Archaeology Wilderness Park

Step back in time with a visit to the El Paso Museum of Archaeology. The North Gallery houses exhibits of artefacts from Southwest and Mexican culture, both ancient and modern. In the South Gallery, visitors can marvel at dioramas depicting the everyday lives of Native Americans in the El Paso region of the US from the Ice Age to the 20th Century.

Hike the nature trails on the grounds of the Museum and see if you can count the over 250 varieties of Chihuahuan Desert native plants that call the area home. Lectures and demonstrations of Native American games and culture are also given – check the website’s calendar of events.

 Operating Hours:

  • Tuesday-Saturday, 9:00am-5:00pm
  • Sunday, 12:00pm-5:00pm

*Closed Mondays and major holidays!

 Notes: Free tours are offered Tuesday-Saturday – 2 weeks’ advance reservation required.

Visit the website

 Phone: 915-755-4332

El Paso Museum of History

Come explore El Paso’s bright and colorful history and culture by visiting the Museum’s five galleries representing over 400 years of US and Mexico border history. Travelling exhibits and the Heritage Hallway provide insight into local culture and regional interests. The Neighborhoods and Shared Memories exhibit shares the history of El Paso’s first annexed neighborhoods and features photographs and oral histories of early El Paso residents. Come discover El Paso’s history!

 Operating Hours:

  • Tuesday-Saturday, 9:00am-5:00pm
  • Thursday, 9:00am-9:00pm
  • Sunday, 12:00pm-5:00pm

 Notes: Closed Mondays and City Holidays; admission is free, though some exhibits may require ticket purchase – see website for details.

Visit the website

 Phone: 915-212-0320

The TecH2O Center

Water in the desert is a scarce resource. Learn all about water education and water management in the desert with a visit to the TecH2O Center, built and maintained by El Paso Water. The interactive Water Museum is filled with exhibits dedicated to teaching about water conservation and management, in addition to exposure to ecological and environmental systems.

 Operating Hours:

  • Monday-Friday, 8:00am-5:00pm (appointment preferred)

 Notes: Appointments preferred; check the website for holiday closures; tours must be scheduled in advance.

Visit the website

 Phone: 915-621-2000

Ysleta Mission

Walk some of the historic Mission Trail and visit the oldest Mission on it, Ysleta Mission, built in 1682. Spanish missionaries spread the Christian word through the building of Missions to serve as religious and social centers of the community.

Combining the heritage and culture of Hispanics and Native Americans, the missions along Mission Trail continue to serve as working examples of faith in the community and the Ysleta Mission remains an active parish.

 Operating Hours: 

  • Daily; please check the website or call Diocese for exact hours

 Notes: N/A

Visit the website

 Phone: 915-872-8411 (Catholic Diocese of El Paso)



Galveston County Historical Museum

Explore Galveston’s past with a visit to The Galveston County Historical Museum, located in the City National Bank Building. The building itself was erected in 1919 and has been converted into a museum space housing exhibits on The Great Storm of 1900, a hurricane with wind speeds upwards of 145 mph that made landfall near Galveston and caused massive devastation to the area. Also on display are artefact exhibits of Native American art and culture and examples of noteworthy Galveston architecture. A lighthouse lens from a 19th-century lighthouse and actual footage from the 1900 Storm are also part of the Museum’s exhibit.

 Operating Hours:

  • Monday-Saturday, 10:00am-5:00pm
  • Sunday, 12:00pm-5:00pm

 Notes: Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day; check the website for ticket costs for some exhibits.

Visit the website

 Phone: 409-766-2340

Galveston Island Ferry

Ahoy, Captain! Head out to sea (or at least to the waters between Galveston Island and the Bolivar Peninsula) with a ride on the Galveston-Port Bolivar Ferry. Watch playful dolphins “race” the boat, marvel at the size of ocean-going ships entering or leaving Galveston or Houston wharves, and look for the remains of the Selma, an experimental concrete ship built during World War I that sank off the coast in 1922 as you enjoy the 13-minute crossing.

 Operating Hours:

  • Daily, 24 hours a day, weather permitting

 Notes: Check website for ferry schedule!

Visit the website

 Phone: 409-795-2230

Galveston Island State Park

Spend a day at the bay with a trip to Galveston Island State Park. The 2,000 acres of surf, sand, coastal prairie, freshwater ponds, wetlands, and bayous is home to hundreds of species of wildlife. The Friends of Galveston Island State Park offer free field trips to the Park; to set up a field trip, contact the Park Ranger at 409-737-1222. Community events include Beach and Bay Day, Camp Wild, and Bird Sit are open to the public as well.

 Operating Hours:

  • Daily, 7:00am-10:00pm, but field trips are scheduled by appointment only

 Notes: Call Park Ranger to schedule free field trips and to have entry fee waived.

Visit the website

 Phone: 409-737-1222

Galveston Tree Sculpture Tour

From destruction can rise beauty. In September of 2008, Hurricane Ike ravaged the Gulf Coast and covered most of Galveston in a tidal surge. As a result, thousands of trees were uprooted or destroyed by the salty water. Considering this an opportunity to create beauty out of destruction, sculpture artists began to transform the debris of dead trees into whimsical sculptures. You can find most of the tree sculptures in the East End Historic District. Visit the website and download the map for a listing of where to find these hidden beauties and go on walking tour to search for these treasures.

 Operating Hours:

  • Daily, dawn to dusk

 Notes: Sculptures are located throughout the city, usually in public places, so there are no operating hours

Visit the website

 Phone: 409-797-5144 (Galveston Island Information Center)

Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle Research Center

Part of the federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries, the Galveston Laboratory and Research Center is renowned for its work with the beautiful Kemp Ridley sea turtles found off the coast in the Gulf of Mexico. The Center is the only federal facility in the U.S. dedicated to the captive rearing of these creatures and their research on husbandry techniques, feeding, pathology, tagging, and rehabilitation of sick and injured sea turtles has helped give marine biologists insight into these magnificent turtles.

 Operating Hours:

  • Free tours are given Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays at 10:00am, 11:00am, 1:00pm, and 2:00pm

 Notes: Call for tour appointments.

Visit the website

 Phone: 409-766-3670

La King’s Confectionery

If you have a sweet tooth, this is the destination for you. La King’s Confectionery has been making old-fashioned candies since 1927. In their Galveston shop, a 1920s style candy store, complete with soda fountain and cases of handmade candy, has been recreated and they use machines and equipment from the era to recreate authentic candy recipes. Stop in and enjoy an hour-long taffy-making demonstration, complete with a free sample.

 Operating Hours:

  • Sunday-Thursday, 10:00am-8:30pm
  • Friday, 10:00am-9:00pm
  • Saturday, 10:00am-9:30pm

 Notes: No taffy demonstrations on Thursdays during summer – check the website for updated taffy demonstration information

Visit the website

 Phone: 409-762-6100

Seawall Urban Park

Have a picnic on the beach! With 32 miles of beaches, Galveston has lots of places to go on sunny days to cool down in the water. Seawall Urban Park is comprised of 10 miles of beach and boasts the nation’s longest continuous sidewalk. From the Seawall Urban Park, it is an easy walk to the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier amusement park (ticket purchase required). Splash in the Gulf of Mexico and relax on the sandy beach.

 Operating Hours:

  • Daily, 6:00am-11:00pm

 Notes: Check website for Park rules.

Visit the website

 Phone: 409-797-5000



Art Car Museum

Vroom! Vroom! Rev up the engines and visit the Art Car Museum, a museum dedicated to the fine art – of cars. This contemporary art museum is an exhibition forum for a variety of local, national, and international artists who work to create a new image of the automobile. Rotating exhibitions also include art from other media as well. Visit the “Garage Mahal” and be amazed by automotive art!

 Operating Hours:

  • Wednesday-Sunday, 11:00am-6:00pm

 Notes: Closed Monday-Tuesday; call ahead to accommodate large groups.

Visit the website

 Phone: 713-861-5526

Buffalo Soldiers Museum

Not a squadron of buffaloes, but the name given to African-American soldiers who served with the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army following the Civil War. This group of former slaves, freedmen, and Civil War soldiers were the first African-Americans to serve during peacetime. Learn about these brave men and their role in Westward expansion with a visit to the Buffalo Soldiers Museum. Thursday afternoons offer free admission to the Museum.

 Operating Hours:

  • Monday-Friday, 10:00am-5:00pm
  • Saturday, 10:00am-4:00pm

 Notes: Free Admission on Thursdays, 1:00pm-5:00pm; closed Sunday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.

Visit the website

 Phone: 713-942-8920

The Health Museum

Learn all about all different aspects of health in this interactive, hands-on museum. From cell activity to the systems that keep a body running, The Health Museum is a Smithsonian Affiliate. Find out what you’re made of in the Amazing Body Gallery and walk through a 10-foot tall brain, a 12-foot tall beating heart, and try out the Jump, Stretch and Hang Activity to test your vertical hanging endurance. Free family admission Thursday afternoons, 2:00pm-7:00pm.

 Operating Hours:

  • Monday-Saturday, 9:00am-5:00pm
  • Thursday, 9:00am-7:00pm
  • Sunday, 12:00pm-5:00pm

*Free Family Day: Thursdays 2:00pm-7:00pm

 Notes: Closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day; Free Family Day: Thursdays 2:00pm-7:00pm.

Visit the website

 Phone: 713-521-1515

The Holocaust Museum Houston

Lest the world forget the atrocities brought by prejudice and hatred in society, the Holocaust Museum Houston is dedicated to remembering the impact of violence and intolerance. With a permanent exhibit of a look at life before the Holocaust to Hitler’s rise to power to the implementation of concentration camps and the extermination carried out within them, this museum explains through artefacts, letters, photographs, and film the roles of collaborators, bystanders, rescuers, liberators, and victims. See a 1942 World War II railcar, the type used to carry millions of Jews to their deaths, a Danish rescue boat like those used to save thousands of fleeing Jews, and two changing galleries for art and photography exhibits. The Garden of Hope is dedicated to children everywhere in memory of the 1.5 million children who died in the Holocaust.

 Operating Hours: 

  • Monday-Friday, 9:00am-5:00pm
  • Saturday, 10:00am-5:00pm
  • Sunday 12:00pm-5:00pm

 Notes: Free admission Sundays; Free to students with valid ID 7 days a week; closed major holidays including Easter Sunday, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day; please check the website for holiday closures or alternate hours of operation; the Museum has moved to 9220 Kirby Drive with a new museum campus opening in the Spring of 2019.

Visit the website

 Phone: 713-942-8000

Houston Arboretum and Nature Center

Head outdoors and escape the hustle and bustle of the city with a visit to the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center. A 155-acre sanctuary for wildlife and local native plants, the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center offers visitors five miles of trails to explore and open access to the Nature Center building with Discovery Room where students of all ages can engage with interactive exhibits and activities. The Wildlife Garden teaches visitors about the best plantings to attract hummingbirds, butterflies, and other wildlife using native plants.

 Operating Hours:

  • Grounds and Trails: March-September, 7:00am-7:30pm; October-February, 7:00a,-6:30pm
  • Discovery Room: 10:00am-4:00pm (closed Mondays)

 Notes: All visitors must be off premises by dusk, no exceptions; buildings may be closed on major holidays – check the website; reservations required for group programs; the Discovery Room may occasionally be closed for group events – call to check availability.

Visit the website

 Phone: 713-681-8433

Houston Center for Contemporary Craft

Not your average art museum! Houston’s Center for Contemporary Craft celebrates art made primarily of craft materials, including clay, fibre, glass, metal, wood, or “found” and recycled materials. The Center also includes an Artist Hall where visitors can explore the work of artists-in-residence. Wander through the Craft Garden, which includes plants used in basket-making, textiles, dyes, and papers. Hands-on workshops are available, though fees may apply. Check the website for an updated calendar of events.

 Operating Hours:

  • Wednesday-Saturday, 10:00am-5:00pm
  • Sunday 12:00pm-5:00pm

 Notes: Closed Mondays and Tuesdays; closed on major holidays; free, docent-led tours available Wednesday-Saturday, 10:30am-3:30pm – contact the Center to reserve and day and time.

Visit the website

 Phone: 713-529-4848

Houston Museum of Natural Science

Check out fossils and fossil replicas in the Hall of Paleontology, explore the Hall of Ancient Egypt, admire the Hall of Gems and Minerals, and learn about Texas natives in the Hall of Texas Wildlife. The Houston Museum of Natural Science includes thousands of specimens and artefacts spanning the millennia. Check out the Foucault Pendulum, first exhibited at the 1851 World’s Fair in Paris, and be mesmerized as you watch the pendulum swing to the Earth’s rotation.

 Operating Hours:

  • Monday-Sunday, 9:00am-6:00pm
  • Free Thursdays – check the website for hours of free admission

 Notes: Free Thursdays – check the website for hours of free admission; some exhibits require ticket purchase – check the website for details.

Visit the website

 Phone: 713-639-4629

Port Houston Boat Tour

How do products and goods make their way around the world? Hop on board the M/V Sam Houston and take a tour of the busy Houston Ship Channel to learn more. Port Houston handles over 6 million tons of cargo each year, making it one of the largest ports in the nation. The 90-minute round-trip, educational tour teaches passengers about the port and maritime history.

 Operating Hours:

  • Tour hours vary. Call or check availability online.

 Notes: Tour is free, but reservations are required at least 24 hours in advance – register online by visiting the website.

Visit the website

 Phone: 713-670-2631

Sam Houston Park

Explore the history of the city with a self-guided tour of authentically restored historical buildings representing the area’s growth from before statehood to the early 20th century. Free cell phone tours explain the historical significance of a variety of buildings, including the 1847 Kellum Noble House (the oldest surviving building constructed in Houston with original brick walls made with mud from Nathaniel Kellum’s brickyard on Buffalo Bayou) and the 1905 Staiti House, with examples of “modern” amenities such as electric lights, an intercom system, and built-in icebox.

 Operating Hours:

  • The Park itself is open daily, from dawn to dusk;
  • Museum and Tour Office: Tuesday-Saturday, 10:00am-4:00pm, closed Sunday and Monday

 Notes: Guided tours of the interiors of the structures available for a fee; cell phone tour is free and can be downloaded from the website.

Visit the website

 Phone: 713-655-1912

Waugh Drive Bridge

Nocturnal creatures most commonly associated with Halloween, you can visit an amazing colony of bats right in the city of Houston! Located less than two miles west of Downtown, an estimated 250,000 Mexican Free-Tailed Bats call the underside of Waugh Drive Bridge, home. Viewing is free from the viewing platform, sidewalk, or bridge. Boat tours are also available for a fee. Watch these amazing creatures reach speeds of up to 99mph.

 Operating Hours:

  • Open year-round; viewing is best done at sunset when the bats emerge to feed on insects

 Notes: Bats don’t like the cold or wet, so rarely emerge if temperatures drop below 50 degrees or it’s raining; “Bat Chats” occur at the bridge on Friday nights from March through October, staffed by the Houston Area Bat Team.

Visit the website

 Phone: 832-395-7000 (City of Houston Parks and Recreation Dept.)


San Antonio

Cibolo Nature Center and Farm

Walk the miles of nature trails, get your feet wet in the Cibolo Creek, and consider what things might have looked like millions of years ago when dinosaurs roamed this area. The Center is home to a wide variety of birds and wildlife and includes several different ecosystems, including tallgrass prairie, riparian rainforest, live oak savannah, and spring-fed marsh. Bring plenty of water and your bug spray and enjoy some outdoor exploration!

 Operating Hours:

  • Cibolo Nature Center: Daily, dawn to dusk
  • Herff Farm: Saturday, 9:00am-1:00pm

 Notes: Groups of 10 or more need to call ahead to check schedule and discuss payment options; general admission is free.

Visit the website

 Phone: 830-249-4616

Comanche Lookout Park

Climb the hill and learn about how the Native Americans who first settled here used this hill as a vantage point for hunting or during periods of war. Check out the view from the top of the fourth-highest point in Bexar County where you can see the Cibolo floodplain and imagine what it would have been like to hunt along the waterways of the Cibolo Creek. Learn about the history of the area from its Apache and Comanche occupations to the building of a medieval-style stone tower in the 1920s as you walk the five miles of hiking trails.

 Operating Hours:

  • Daily, 5:00am-11:00pm

 Notes: N/A

Visit the website

 Phone: 210-207-7275

McNay Art Museum

Find art inside and out at this San Antonio Museum, the first museum of modern art in Texas. Housed in a 24-room Spanish colonial-revival-style mansion on 23 acres of land, the McNay Art Museum began with the donation of Marion Koogler McNay, an American painter, and art teacher, with a vision to create the first museum of modern art in the state. Her collection of more than 700 works of art from artists like Diego Rivera and Paul Gauguin has grown into a collection of more than 20,000 pieces. Sculpture, painting, drawings, prints and the architecture and landscape design of the grounds are sure to inspire visitors.

 Operating Hours:

  • Sunday, 12:00pm-5:00pm
  • Tuesday/Wednesday/Friday, 10:00am-4:00pm
  • Thursday, 10:00am-9:00pm
  • Saturday, 10:00am-5:00pm

 Notes: Closed Mondays and major holidays; during Daylight Savings Time, the grounds are open 7:00am-7:00pm; during Standard Time they are open 7:00am-6:00pm; Free admission Thursday nights and the first Sunday of each month – please see website for calendar of free admission days/times and a list of exhibits requiring ticket purchase.

Visit the website

 Phone: 210-824-5368

San Antonio Missions National Historical Park

Four in one! This park features four distinct sites, all within a relatively short distance from one another. Mission Concepción is 3 miles south of downtown; Mission San José is home to the Visitor Center; Mission San Juan is where the Spanish colonial demonstration farm is located, and Mission Espada is the farthest south of the four.

Each of these missions served as religious and social centers and safe havens for the people of the surrounding communities and each continues to hold religious services that are open to the public.

 Operating Hours:

  • Daily, sunrise to sunset

* Visitor Center: Daily, 9:00am-5:00pm

 Notes: All sites closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.

Visit the website

 Phone: 210-932-1001

San Antonio Museum of Art

Visit one of the most comprehensive collections of ancient Egyptian, Greek, Roman, and Near East art in a public museum in the US. There is a variety of educational programs available to schools and teachers to prepare for a visit to the Museum. Hands-on activities and interactive opportunities make this a fun place for kids to visit and learn.

 Operating Hours:

  • Free General Admission: Tuesdays, 4:00pm-9:00pm and Sundays, 10:00am-12:00pm;
  • General Hours: Tuesday and Friday, 10:00am-9:00pm; Wednesday/Thursday/Saturday/Sunday, 10:00am-5:00pm; closed Monday

 Notes: Closed Mondays and major holidays.

Visit the website

 Phone: 210-978-8100

San Antonio Public Library

It’s more than just books! The San Antonio Public Library system offers a wide variety of kid-friendly activities, including puppet shows, arts and crafts, and demonstrations like live animals. Exhibits and activities engage learners of all ages with programs designed to engage imaginations. Check the website for a calendar of events.

 Operating Hours:

  • Check the website – hours for branches vary

 Notes: N/A

Visit the website

 Phone: 210-207-2500

The Alamo

“Remember the Alamo!”

This famous battle cry was meant to spur on the forces of Sam Houston in the battle against the Mexican army. Today visitors can tour the mission turned military outpost turned museum and historical landmark. The Church building now serves as a Shrine of Texas Liberty. Lesson plans and History Trunks are available to teachers interested in having their students learn about the Alamo.

 Operating Hours:

  • May 26-September 4, 9:00am-7:00pm
  • September 5-May 25, 9:00am-5:30pm

 Notes: Closed Christmas Day; last entry is 15 minutes before closing.

The visit the website

 Phone: 210-225-1391

UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures

This Smithsonian Affiliate invites all learners to come and learn about the cultures that make up the state of Texas. Interactive exhibits, displays of art and culture, help bring Texas history and the cultures of its people to life.

 Operating Hours:

  • Monday-Saturday, 9:00am-5:00pm
  • Sunday, 12:00pm-5:00pm

 Notes: Free admission every second Sunday of the month, except in February and June; check the website for dates of closure.

The visit website

 Phone: 210-458-2300

Witte Museum

The Witte Museum has been a community cultural center since its opening in 1926. Come explore the variety of art and artifacts and marvel at exhibitions like “Predators vs. Prey: Dinosaurs on the Land Before Texas” and “Gatherings at the Waters: 12,000 Years of People”. Check the website for a current list of exhibitions and for special program and event offerings.

 Operating Hours:

  • Monday, Wednesday-Saturday, 10:00am-5:00pm
  • Tuesday, 10:00am-8:00pm
  • Sunday, 12:00pm-5:00pm

 Notes: Free admission Tuesdays from 3:00pm-8:00pm.

Visit the website

 Phone: 210-357-1900

While there are many traditional methods of communication that are used in schools and will continue to be used for years to come, there are also new means to speak with students that are proving to be effective. While nothing will ever quite match a teacher standing in front of the students and delivering a lecture or explaining something patiently, emails are now a common tool for distributing messages and queries; and text messages are beginning to prove popular too. One of the main reasons for this is the fact that most students are pretty regularly attached to their phones and are very comfortable talking over text. This means they receive the message and comprehend it, rather than being daunted by wordy emails or formal language. The following show how text messaging is an effective way to communicate with your students.

Texts Are Time-Efficient

The majority of text messages – roughly 90% – are read within 10 minutes of being received. Very few schools and universities can make similar claims about their email services or student portals, and messages there are often missed or overlooked. Recent results from a Sonoma State University Case Study show that students are much more likely to read and act upon texts. They receive them in time to realize when they have a deadline, which is sometimes missed when updates are sent via email. Plus, since texts are stored on a students’ phones, they can always quickly access their reminders, or save them to the calendar they always have with them on their smartphones. This study showed that students were more organized and efficient after receiving text reminders, and indicated that this could be a useful step for universities all over the country to take.

When you start implementing a text message service, be sure to hold training sessions, or at least information sessions, with both teachers and students, in order for everyone to be on the same page when it comes to using the text service. This minimizes the risk of miscommunication while using the service, and everybody is aware of how and why the service is being used, and how to use it properly so everybody benefits from it.

Mass Communication is Key

While emails can be sent out to large groups, there is often repeated confusion in terms of the ‘reply all’ button, and each email takes a little more time to reply to. With texts, you can text hundreds of people simultaneously and it’s then very easy for recipients to respond to individual replies without losing track of who they’ve talked to or getting bogged down with replies. Plus, there is no more confusion about who exactly students are replying to, and if they have a question about a message, they’re more comfortable submitting it over text than over email. One of the benefits of organizing students through mass communication was also shown by a Longwood University Case Study, which used texts to organize student volunteers who were helping out with the 2016 Vice Presidential debate. It is much easier to coordinate students through text than through any other platform, especially because you can be confident that they have actually received your messages.

There’s Less Spam over Text

Students receive a lot of messages over email and a lot of them are just ignored. They know that they receive updates from the university that they aren’t interested in at all, and they may, therefore, miss updates that matter. By using texts, you can filter out all of the irrelevant information, and instead ensure that students have the messages that are actually essential to them.

No matter how or why you plan on implementing your service, it’s important to give students the chance to opt out if they don’t want to use it. However, to avoid a mass opt-out where a lot of students may be missing out on important information, be sure to highlight to them the benefits of including themselves in the service.

Simplify Your Communication

By using mass texts, your school’s admin staff can save a lot of time and money. If relevant information has been uploaded to a website, you can even text your students so they know where to find the details they need. This may sound excessive, but an Iowa State University Case Study has found that by using text updates they have seen massive increases in blog traffic. This is because a simple text can effectively inform a student about something they’re interested in, or even where to find something that they actually need.

Stay Ahead of Competitors

Now a few schools have started using texts as a method of communication, and it is a trend that will catch on. “So you have a choice – do you get left behind or wait until the last minute to keep up with your competitors, or do you stay ahead of the curve by implementing modern and useful practices as early as possible, and mastering how to use them efficiently while everyone else catches up?” explains Gene O’Neill, an Educator at Studydemic.

Overall, texting may sound strange for a university environment, but it is a remarkably effective and efficient means of distributing important information. One of the best ways to assess a text service is to list out why you would need it in your school.

Perhaps you want to educate students with information about events and what’s going on, provide updates about the university’s services, have an emergency text service for dangerous circumstances, or even provide news. Once you’ve established why you want a text service, it will be much easier to implement it.

Ask Your Students What Works Best

Whether you’ve been communicating with your students via text messages for some time, or you’re just starting to introduce the service, it’s always best to talk to your students about how they feel about the service and how it can be improved.

Some students may love the service, and some may hate it. Some students may require more information and more long-form messages to understand what’s going on (especially since text messages tend to be short-form).

Make sure you’re open to feedback and criticisms on the service on how to improve it. Some students will need to be catered to differently, and this will depend entirely on their individual circumstances, so always be open to listening to their responses.

About the Author:

Freddie Tubbs is a tutor at Academ advisor. He regularly takes part in educational webinars and contributes articles to the Vault blog.

What we learn in each grade can differ across states. To guarantee that all schools in the same state meet certain requirements, there are academic standards. In the state of Indiana, the Indiana State Board of Education has created and implemented the Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress Plus (ISTEP+) for grade 10.

Requirement for Graduation

The ISTEP+ exams are so important for consistency across the state that the Indiana Department of Education has made the passing of the Grade 10 ISTEP+ in English/Language Arts and Mathematics a requirement for those graduating in 2019 and on. Of course, there are additional requirements that can be used in place of this, but the ISTEP+ exams are possibly the least complicated option.

Test Structure

There are technically three exam subjects broken down for ISTEP+ Grade 10. As mentioned before, Language Arts and Math are given to tenth-grade classes. The other subject is science. Originally, the ISTEP+ exams were given for grades 3-8 and 10 (including a social studies subject exam). However, beginning in the spring of 2018, Indiana has moved the younger grades over to the ILEARN exams. For the tenth graders, the ISTEP+ exams are broken down into two parts: Part 1 and Part 2. Part 1 consists of open-ended questions, where you’ll be asked to fill in the answers. The other part of the exam, Part 2, includes selected-response questions and those that can be answered through technology manipulation, such as graphing.


The ISTEP+ exams are a bit tricky for grading because they are graded based on a pattern scale of correctly answered questions and difficulty of questions. The test scores range from 100-400, but each subject matter has differing minimum passing scores. For instance, the ELA exam has a minimum passing score of 244 (292 for Pass+), but the science score is a minimum of 248 (281 for Pass+) and math has a minimum passing score of 271 (339 for Pass+).  

Test Prep

Though most of the information you need for the exams will be learned throughout your education at school, you may find that you want to study a bit for the exams beforehand. There are many options available out there for refreshers and practice exams. Some websites offer refresher courses and practice exams. This website offers an in-depth look at topics that are covered on each of the exams, all available online 24/7.

For Parents
As a parent, you’re likely worried about the test scores and graduation status of your Indiana student. You can also keep track of your students’ activities and test scores through the Parent Portal. Simply receive an access code from the DOE and submit your child’s information. Through the Parent Portal, you can even take a look at the questions and your student’s response to each of those questions. This will allow you to keep track of what they need to work on and study for future exams or retests.

In 2013, the state of Texas recognized that too many of its college students were not academically ready for college-level classes. In an effort to address this problem, the State Education Department introduced the Texas Success Initiative (TSI).  Evaluating the areas of reading, writing, and math, the TSI gives prospective colleges an idea of how academically successful you might be. Based on performance, a student might be placed in either a traditional college course or a course with assistance to improve certain skills. To help students complete 

college and earn a degree, the state of Texas has invested many of its resources into assisting college advisors to place students in the courses where they will be most successful.  Since the competition for jobs upon graduation is intense, the TSI enables students to be better prepared with the skills needed to pursue a career. So, how do you prepare for the TSI?

TSI Pre-Assessment
Completing the mandatory TSI Pre-Assessment registers you for the test.  The college you have chosen will conduct this pre-assessment and document your participation.

Preparing for the TSI Test

There are many ways to prepare for the test:

  • Access the online practice questions and note the areas that you don’t do well.  This will give you an opportunity to gain further practice in your weaker areas.
  • Review a free online study guide.  Using technology in a targeted way often pays big dividends.
  • Purchase a book that gives hints and helps for the test.
  • Practice the test as many times as possible since learning the test format, in addition to the knowledge required, improves confidence.

Test Prep Services

Investing in a test preparation service can yield much higher results than individual practice.  Often, the service can tailor the practice to each of the sections (math, reading, and writing) directly to your student.  This saves time and effort since the focus is on the areas that need the most repetition and skill reinforcement.

General Test-Taking Strategies

There are general strategies that can help on the day of the test:

  • Get plenty of rest the night before.

Scientists at the University of Luebeck in Germany found that volunteers taking a simple math test were three times more likely than sleep-deprived participants to figure out a hidden rule for converting the numbers into the right answer if they had eight hours of sleep. “It’s going to have potentially important results for children for school performance and for adults for work performance,” said Dr. Carl E. Hunt, director of the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research at the National Institutes of Health.

  • Eat a healthy breakfast to keep hunger from being a distraction.
  • Prepare all of your supplies the night before: pencils, admission ticket, water, and snack.

With more specific student support and focus on skill improvement, the TSI has improved student college graduation rates from 30% to 60%.  This is a significant gain for Texas schools and has a direct correlation to students’ success in their careers.

It is tough to get into college these days. With stiff competition from thousands of applicants, one place to set yourself apart is during your interview. Not all colleges require (or even offer) an interview component to their application process, but many do, so check the school’s website or contact the admission office to find out if interviews are offered and how to schedule one. Interviews may be conducted by an admissions officer or a representative of the school, such as a current student or a graduate, who has agreed to help interview candidates to see if they are a good fit for the school. Interviews may be conducted in person or by phone or video.

There are literally hundreds of interview questions that colleges might ask of their applicants. It is impossible to prepare for all the questions you might face, but it is easy to practice and prepare for some of the most common ones. There is actually a lot of psychology that goes into the types of questions admission officers ask and what they are looking for in your responses. Remember that what you say is sometimes just as important as what you don’t say, and your body language speaks to the audience as well. By knowing the types of questions admission boards may ask you and understanding what they are really looking for when they ask these questions (or any number of their variants), you can be prepared with some solid and impressive answers to wow your interviewer!

 General Interview Tips:

  • Don’t be nervous. Yeah, yeah, easier said than done. And admissions officers or their representatives understand that nerves are natural and to be expected. But try to keep them under control. Take deep breaths, maintain eye contact, and try to stay calm. Remember that questions don’t need an immediate answer – it’s okay to pause (briefly), gather your thoughts, and formulate an answer. If you don’t understand the question or aren’t sure what they are looking for in your answer, ask for clarification or for them to reword the question, or repeat it in your own words to make sure you’ve understood what they are asking.
  • It’s a conversation, not an audition – really! The purpose of the interview in a college application is twofold: It allows the admissions officer an opportunity to get to know who you are and to gauge whether you will be a good fit for their school, but it is also an opportunity for you to ensure that the school will meet your needs and expectations. If you go in with a “script” and are playing a part you think will impress them, the interview will come across as stiff, and they may misunderstand or misread the real you. Really listen to what the interviewer is asking, give yourself a moment to compose yourself and your answer, and then give it your best and most honest response. Definitely, have some talking points tucked away, but don’t be afraid to answer “off the cuff” with whatever comes to mind at the time – filtered for audience and purpose, of course. It’s also okay to admit you don’t know or aren’t sure but talk through your reasoning a little bit so they can see your thought process at work.
  • Honesty is the best policy. Being honest is the best way to be impressive – don’t tell the panel what you think they want to hear. Speak the truth, from your heart, to ensure that the panel gets to understand the “real” you and can assess how you will fit in on their campus and can appreciate the contributions you can make to their campus community. Be creative and show your personality, but don’t lie or pretend to be someone you’re really not.
  • Ask questions of your questioner. One of the easiest ways to show a school’s representative that you are interested in attending is by having a few questions prepared that you can ask at the end of your interview. They will usually conclude by asking if you have any questions, and it’s a good idea to have one or two to show that you have done your research on this school and you are eager to learn more about specific aspects of it. Don’t ask questions where the answers could be found easily on the school’s website; but if something comes up in the interview that you want to ask a follow-up question about or you have a question where the answer will give you valuable information to help you make your decision, ask it!

 Whatever You Do, DON’T:

  • Show up late, unprepared, or without having done your research on the school. You are not doing them a favor by participating in this interview, so be sure to be respectful and attentive. Put your cell phone away (after making sure it’s on Do Not Disturb) and shake hands firmly while making eye contact with the interviewer.
  • Forget your audience. While you want to try to keep to a natural conversation tone and tempo, this interviewer is not your friend and you’re not hanging out over coffee. Dress appropriately and use elevated (but natural) vocabulary – no slang and avoid fillers (“um”, “like”, “you know”, etc.). Keep it natural and try not to sound rehearsed.
  • Be too shy or too boastful. It’s Important to try to find the middle ground – share about yourself, who you are, and what has brought you to this point in your life, but show humility. Admit to your failures or short-comings and focus on explaining what you learned as a result of those experiences.



1. Tell us something about yourself

2. What adjectives best describe you?

3. How do you plan to get involved in our campus community?

4. How do you spend your time when you are not in school?

5. What are your academic strengths and weaknesses?

6. Describe an obstacle you have faced

7. What is your opinion on [topic]?

8. What book would you recommend everyone should read?

9. Who in your life has been most influential on you, and why?

10. What do you hope to gain from attending this college or university?

11. What experiences have you had with people who are different from you?

12. Do you have any questions for us?


Question 1: Tell us something about yourself.

What they’re looking for:

Often couched as more of a request or statement rather than a question, what the representative is looking for is to get a general understanding of who you are and what you’re all about.

How to answer:

This question does NOT mean start with your birth and chronologically account for every major milestone in your life, from learning to walk to your high school graduation. Instead, give a succinct explanation of who you are and what you potentially have to offer the school. What makes you special or a stand out among the other applicants? Why would this school be proud to call you an alumnus after you graduate? They know your age, hometown, grades, etc. from your application, so try to give information or details not included in the paperwork part. In answering this question, it can feel like you are rambling, so be sure to practice this one ahead of time so that it is telling, without all of the details, and gives an accurate representation of who you are and why you are important without boasting.


Question 2: What adjectives best describe you?  Or How would your best friend describe you?

What they’re looking for:

This question might include a set number (What 3 adjectives best describe you? Or What adjective would your best friend use to describe you?) Pay attention if they give you a specific number – they want to make sure that you are really listening and paying attention, in addition to seeing how you assess yourself. It is a test of both your humility and your creativity, so try to avoid general adjectives (nice, funny, smart), and pick some that really capture the essence of you.

How to answer:

Bragging can be the worst! We’ve all been told not to do it, to be humble, but this is your opportunity to balance humility with some creative adjectives that give a sense of who you really are and what is important to you. Really spend some time on this one, brainstorming specific and creative adjectives to describe you and your personality. If possible, provide justification for why you’ve chosen the ones you have.

I would say one adjective that describes me is determined. Although my determination can sometimes come across as ‘pushy’, I am goal-oriented and I feel most satisfied when I achieve what I have set out to do, so I am willing to work hard and encourage those around me to work hard, too, so that we can achieve a goal together.

Sometimes the way the question is asked will allow you to justify and explain your answers. Though if you get the sense that the interviewer just wants a list of 5 adjectives, give them the list of 5 adjectives and wait to see if they ask follow-up questions or seek more details.


Question 3: How do you plan to get involved in our campus community?

What they’re looking for:

Schools want to know that you have something to offer them for everything they’re going to offer you. It’s students who make campus life engaging, inviting, and inclusive, so they want to know how you are going to engage with the community around you and help to make positive contributions to the school and campus, not just sit in your dorm room all the time. It’s also a test of your personality (what do you like to do in your free time) and whether or not you have researched the school and can mention or inquire more about certain activities or opportunities.

How to answer:

This is a great opportunity for you to talk about bridging your activities from high school to the opportunities this college or university provides on campus. They give insight into your values and passions and show that you enjoy being a part of a community.

“I was really involved in our International Club at my high school, and I saw on your website that you have several Cultural Houses as part of your campus life. I would like to learn more about those.”

“I volunteer helping elementary school students with their homework after school. I’d like to continue serving the community by finding some volunteer opportunities at your school.”

The idea is to show that you want to be engaged and interact with the campus community, but college is also a great time to try new things! So you might want to mention some clubs or organizations associated with the school that you think would be interesting to check out and learn more about. A great follow-up question to your interviewer is to inquire about any sort of Club Rush or Club Fair the school offers (they usually happen in the fall), where the school’s different clubs and organizations showcase what they do and look for new recruits for their program. You want to give the sense that you will be actively participating and will make their school even better with your contributions.


Question 4: How do you spend your time when you’re not in school?  Or, If you had an afternoon to spend any way you’d like, what would you do with the time and why?  Or, What do you like to do for fun?

What they’re looking for:

As suspect as it might sound, this is not a “gotcha” question where the representative is looking for a “right” answer. Instead, your honest response gives a sense of your values, passions, and hobbies, and indicates your ability to create balance in your life. They’re wanting to hear, honestly, what matters to you and how you spend your “off” time in a meaningful or fulfilling way. This is an especially important question to answer genuinely and not just with the answer you think they want to hear.

How to answer:

This is not a trick question. Though you probably don’t want to discuss the weekend parties you enjoy attending, this is an opportunity to share some of your passions or activities that are important to you and to indicate what gives your life a sense of meaning and value. Are you involved in family, community, or society in a meaningful way? If you had an entire afternoon free, would you spend it on social media or lost in cyberspace somewhere? Would you cloister yourself away in your room playing video games? Would you offer to mow the neighbor’s lawn? Take your dog for a walk? Ideally, your answer to this question presents a balanced person who is able to appreciate doing for others but also realizes the importance of focusing and rebalancing the self. But if you’re not into yoga on the beach or sitting cross-legged in deep meditation, explain how playing those video games relaxes you or how hours spent on social media helps you feel engaged with people you may not get to see in person very often, and therefore why you value those types of activities.


Question 5: What are your academic strengths and weaknesses?  Or, How do you learn best?

What they’re looking for:

Also not a trick question, this inquiry allows the representative to get a sense of your level of self-awareness when it comes to your academic strengths and weaknesses or your learning style. They want to make sure that your strengths will be an asset to the school and that your weaknesses are areas in which they can provide support and work with you to strengthen based on your identification of them and willingness to work through them.

How to answer:

This can be a tricky question because it’s sometimes hard to brag about what we do well or to admit to where we struggle. But this is a great question if there are any anomalies in your transcript or anything in the academic portion of your application that you feel you need to explain to the representative. For example, if you failed Spanish in high school and only earned a C the second time around, you might explain that one of your weaknesses is language acquisition – you have discovered that learning a language is a challenge for you because of the auditory processing it requires, but your strength in acing all of your science classes, including AP Biology, comes as a result of your hands-on learning style.

Being able to conduct lab experiments and having that hands-on interaction with the material helped you learn and understand it better. Academic strengths and weaknesses can go beyond the particular subject. For example, you may be very organized, so strength is that you never lose an assignment or forget to turn anything in because you keep good track of your work, but you are a procrastinator so that work is often being done last minute, which sometimes results in less than your best.

Be sure not only to acknowledge your weaknesses but also to acknowledge your awareness of them and the coping skills you apply to counter their negative effects.

I am a procrastinator, but I am working on improving that by using calendar reminders on my phone to remind me about upcoming deadlines so I can start on the task before the last minute.


Question 6: Tell us about a time when you didn’t get what you wanted or when things didn’t go your way. How did you respond to that experience?  Or, Describe an obstacle you have faced. How did you overcome the challenge that it presented?

What they’re looking for:

There’s so much psychology in this question. How easily do you admit to mistakes? What kind of mistakes do you choose to admit to? How thoroughly do you explain the impact of the mistake and its long-lasting effect? Remembering when you didn’t get the color balloons you wanted for your six-year-old birthday party may have bummed you out at the time, but why are you still holding onto that disappointment? How do you relate it to current disappointments? Your answer to this question speaks to your resiliency, your ability to recognize an obstacle as such, and your capacity to process that obstacle and figure out alternative approaches to the problem. There is a lot of self-reflection associated with this question: How easily do you admit to not getting your way or facing an obstacle? Your answer indicates how well you problem solve and deal with frustration or disappointment.  

How to answer:

This one’s a tough one. Not only do most people have an awful lot of examples to choose from, but how do you determine the “right” one to share? The right one is the one that sticks with you to this day. It is the experience that you remember and use as inspiration to push you through current tough times. We face obstacles every day, but how we approach them today comes as a result of what we’ve learned from the past. It’s okay to choose an example where you didn’t handle the disappointment or obstacle well at the time, but with continued self-reflection and some maturation, you realize you would handle things differently today. Remember that in any of these “Tell us about…” questions, you want to keep your story-telling succinct. They need enough details to appreciate the situation, but not so many that your story is long and drawn-out. This is another good question type to practice ahead of time and pass by some people to get feedback about whether it seemed rambling or if it lacked details that would help explain the impact.


Question 7: What is your opinion on [insert any debatably current event or topic here]?

What they’re looking for:

This question assesses your level of global citizenship. While you may not need to know all the details about Greece’s banking system and why their debt-crisis is critical to all of Europe, it is a good idea to know something about something so that it doesn’t seem like you’ve been living under a rock or are so caught up in your own world that you lose sight of the big picture. Representatives are looking to see how much you know about the world around you and how knowledgeable you are about current events. Your opinion also gives insight into your values and perceptions of the world.

How to answer:

Don’t be shocked or alarmed by this question, prepare for it by doing some reading online or watching some news broadcasts ahead of your interview to get a sense of some of the challenging debates taking place across the nation and around the world. You may not have the answers to the problem they ask about but show that you have heard of it, have a basic understanding of it, or have considered it enough to have some questions about it (“So I have heard of xyz, and I don’t understand how…”). An opinion is just that – there’s no right or wrong answer, but they are looking to see what topic you pick to discuss, which side of the argument you seem to be on, and how you approach the problem. If worse comes to worse and you really have no idea what they are talking about, it’s okay to say, “I’m not sure,” or “I’m not familiar with that issue,” but chances are they will ask your opinion about a topic that is broad enough that you should have some knowledge and some opinion about it. As this is an opinion and it may be about a sensitive topic, be aware of any bias or prejudice that may be present in your response and practice ahead of time so that your opinion uses neutral, non-stereotypical, and non-prejudicial language.


Question 8: What book would you recommend everyone should read?

What they’re looking for:

First, are you literate? Second, the answer to this question also speaks to your interests and what you find important or valuable in life. People recommend books because they feel somehow connected to text, its story, its characters, or its theme. Representatives are interested in hearing what kind of writing you’re connecting with and what important message you found that resonates with you.

How to answer:

Chances are (hopefully!) that you have a wide range of texts from which to choose an answer. Some people like to get nostalgic and select a book from their childhood that taught them a valuable lesson or cemented their love for reading, or was just the right book at the right time. Others select a book from their high school years, something they’ve read more recently or studied more in-depth with class discussion and analytical assignments. Still others select a text they may have read on their own, such as an independent reading book. Regardless of your selection, select with a purpose. WHY should everyone read this book? WHY is it important? What lesson(s) does it have to offer? Have you applied that lesson to your own life in any way? With what results? Consider, also, the question – what book should everyone read? Which means you need to select a book that most people can relate to on some level and not one that most won’t be able to relate to or find meaning in.


Question 9: Who in your life has been most influential on you, and why?  Or, Tell me about an influential person in your life. How has this person influenced you and what have you taken away from your interactions with him or her?

What they’re looking for:

George Washington is credited with sharing the idea that “It is better to be alone than in bad company,” and the idea that you are only as good as the company you keep means that the people you look to for guidance or inspiration says a lot about who you are. This question seeks to determine what kinds of people you associate with and look up to as role models or sources for inspiration.

How to answer:

Your choice may be personal, like a grandmother, coach, piano teacher, or someone no one else has necessarily heard of; or, you may pick a more well-known source of inspiration, like a famous musician, artist, or politician. No matter who you pick, make sure you have a succinct story to tell about how this person has affected you in a positive way. While people tend to select influential people based on the positive things those individuals have modeled in their own life, it is possible to choose bad influences to talk about what you have learned about life from these people and their struggles and how they inspire you to be or achieve more than they have. Think about the justification for why you select an individual to be your “most influential” person. It doesn’t have to be someone you know personally or be someone you’ve spent much time with, as long as they have left some kind of lasting impact on you for the better.   


Question 10: What do you hope to gain from attending this college or university?

What they’re looking for:

Understanding what your motivation and expectations are with regard to college or university help admission officers determine whether or not their school will meet your expectations and whether you would be a good fit. They may also be looking to see if you have formulated clear goals for yourself, both short-term and long-term, to be sure that you’re attending college for all of the “right” reasons.

How to answer:

Although the answer might boil down to “I want to get a good job, make a lot of money, and live a comfortable life,” this question requires both short-term and long-term consideration. In the short-term, you are about to spend at least four years of your life at this school and in this community. Why do you want to be there? How do you envision the next four to six years of your life? What role does this school play in that vision? Then expand to long-term and the knowledge and learning you hope to gain that will serve you for a lifetime. Also, some people aren’t really sure why they’re headed off to college, other than that’s just the expectation of the next step placed on them by family or society. So really think about his one before you answer. What are YOU hoping to gain from this experience? What does THIS school have to offer you that another college or university doesn’t? Why would you be a good fit here? It’s a valid question and needs an honest, thoughtful answer.


Question 11: What experiences have you had with people who are different from you?

What they’re looking for:

College is a melting pot of all different people from all different backgrounds. Admission officers want to know your experience with diversity and assess your interactions with others. College can be an opportunity to experience and learn about different people and cultures and your prior experiences with doing so may speak to the success you’ll have in acclimating to college life.

How to answer:

We’ve all been there – in a situation with someone who is different from ourselves, wondering how to interact, what common ground may be found. Sometimes these interactions are brief and inconsequential, but sometimes they shape who we are and how we view the world. Your answer to this question explains your level of acceptance when differences are easier to identify than similarities. As you prepare for this question, think about several of these experiences and consider: was the experience positive or negative? Were you the “instigator” or the “victim” in the experience? What did you learn as a result of the interaction? Your answers to these kinds of sub-questions help the admission officer determine your probable success as part of a diverse campus and what you will do to help bring people together in a spirit of understanding.


Question 12: Do you have any questions for us?

What they’re looking for:

Interviewers generally end the session with this generic question. Don’t ever answer, “No, I’m good, thanks.” Having questions to ask in return shows that you are thoughtfully engaged in this school selection process. You are inquisitive and eager to learn more. Your questions also allow them to assess the research you’ve already done about their school and the seriousness with which you are approaching this decision.

How to answer:

The answer to this question should always be an enthusiastic “YES!” followed by a thoughtful question or two that will provide you information that will help solidify your selection of this school as the perfect place for you. Don’t pepper the interviewer with 30 different questions, but have two or three to ask, understanding that there may not be time for the representative to answer a lot of questions from you. Make sure the questions you ask are not basic information questions that you could find the answers to online. The best questions to ask are ones you have formed as a result of the conversation you’ve just had. Questions that follow-up to comments made during your interview show that you were paying attention and are already reflecting back on the experience. At the very least, have a few questions prepared to ask about campus life or academics. If you are concerned about anything, ask a question about it. For example, you may ask about student support for incoming freshmen – are there counselors to talk with, is tutoring available if you feel like you’re struggling? Questions like these indicate you are interested in your success and are already envisioning yourself as part of their school family.

A growth mindset is a new concept in a lot of educational circles, but it is trending in education right now because it introduces the idea of shifting the focus from achievement (grades) and placing it on effort and determination to accomplish goals.

Carol Dweck: Growth Mindset Pioneer

In a book published in 2007, psychology professor Carol Dweck was one of the first to embrace the concept of the growth mindset as a beneficial tool for educators.  Based on her research on the subject, promoting a growth mindset in the classroom requires certain fundamentals if the idea is going to have any success.

According to Dweck, a student’s notion about his or her ability to achieve falls between the fixed mindset and growth mindset:

  • Fixed Mindset: the idea that abilities and intelligence are fixed and cannot be improved
  • Growth Mindset: the idea that persistence and continuous effort will develop and enhance abilities and skills

Since our mindset helps determine the amount of motivation we have as learners, Dweck urges educators to build learning environments that focus on aiming students toward a growth mindset.

The following are essential strategies you can use to help instill a growth mindset in today’s classroom.

1. Refrain from Applauding Intelligence and Effort

Focusing on intelligence often restricts students’ concept of learning because they associate it with earning grades (which is a fixed mindset).  According to Dweck, the objective is to focus on the process of learning and the methods taken to reach their learning goals, because focusing on intelligence can enhance a fixed mindset.

Effort is important in establishing a growth mindset, but to focus on it above everything else can send out the implication that a student’s effort is not enough—as if to say the student’s attempt is the best they can do and there’s no room for improvement.

If students think intelligence is fixed, there won’t be much motivation to go beyond what the student thinks is their best effort. That means the students may show a lack of interest in assignments and may perform even poorer on their assignments.

Our goal is to get students to focus on the various strategies that can be used to achieve a goal:

We must be mindful that what we applaud can hinder or promote a growth mindset.

2. Embrace a Variety of Teaching Strategies

Dweck believes that a variety of teaching methods can encourage students to develop a vast array of strategies to accomplish goals.

Use a variety of methods to give students different ways of:

  • Receiving New Content — When applicable, use videos, audio clips, presentations and physical manipulatives, such as blocks, in your lessons. Learning stations can help you deliver this content in a single class.
  • Processing Their Learning — Instead of always working individually, give students chances to work in pairs and groups.
  • Demonstrating Mastery of Learning — Students can demonstrate mastery of learning an objective by performing a variety of activities instead of relying solely on a test (i.e., projects, visuals, speeches, skits, stories, etc.)

Your varied teaching methods will encourage your students to consider multiple options for achieving their goals, which promotes a growth mindset.  

For instance, some science teachers use a Jeopardy-style review game to help students study for a test, instead of using a traditional study guide.

You may also want to vary the design of your classroom to accommodate different learning techniques and activities, and to promote freedom of thinking (i.e., having learning centers or reading mats during reading time).

3. Incorporating Gaming

You can use the lingo and culture of gaming to spark student interest in learning. Gamification of the classroom helps remove the focus off your students’ mistakes and places value of persistence in trying to achieve goals.  Here are some examples of gamification in the classroom:

Football: rewarding book reading goals for the class as touchdowns when the class has read a specific number of books for the month.

Coins/Tokens: Letter grades can become coins or level-ups. Class participation and completion of homework can become experience points (XPs).

Special Missions: Extra-credit work can be viewed as solo missions and quests. The possibilities are many when it comes to incorporating gaming into the classroom. The concept focuses on adding to their accomplishments (like earning coins and XPs) and not subtracting from 100 (as traditional grades do).

4. Honoring Challenges

Encouraging the appreciation of accomplishing a challenging task (which is akin to teaching the embracing of a growth mindset) encourages a growth mindset. Dweck suggests teachers spend time teaching students about the impact of learning on the brain (as discussed in point #15 below) to help encourage the notion of improving one’s intelligence. The goal is to get students to realize that mastering a challenge helps to enhance one’s abilities.

In Dweck’s book, she recounts a middle school research project that revealed a vast improvement in math scores after teaching the value of mastering challenges. The other group with the fixed mindset experienced a decrease in scores over that same two-year period.

5. Encourage Students to Expand their Answers

The concept of improvement by giving more is a key component of a growth mindset. Getting students to go into detail about their thinking process (what they understand and what they don’t understand) can help them come up with better responses.

Students realize that mastery of an objective is not fixed but something that can be cultivated over time, if not already possessed.

The following methods help students think metacognitively about their learning:

  • Q&A Feedback:  Promote the concept of asking questions when students are presented with new information. That gives the presenter an opportunity to expand on key points.
  • Problem-Based Learning (PBL) activities: Cooperative activities designed to promote group collaboration.

More clarification leads to the encouragement of critical thinking and the development of greater understanding of the material.

6. Discuss the Value of Abstract Skills and Concepts

If students can’t relate to it, then they probably will have a harder time mastering the concept. The best way to approach teaching abstract concepts is to find ways to make it relevant to students by discussing:

  • How the concept can be applied to life outside the classroom
  • How the concept can help students when they get older
  • Why the concept is important in our world (or culture)

Relevance will encourage students to want to learn more about the concept and make it easier to promote a growth mindset about abstract skills.

Activities that promote real-life applications will help teachers instill the value of mastering an abstract skill as students find personal relevance.

7. Promote Goal-Based Journaling

Journaling offers a variety of benefits—one of which is the instilling of the growth mindset by allowing students to create goals. In their journals, students should

  • Identify personal learning goals
  • Write about how they are completing milestones to reach their goals

For example, if a student sets the goal of reading two novels each month for the reading program, the student can discuss how he or she is going to reach that goal. Some of the milestones to reach the goal could be reading two chapters a day and substituting an hour of TV time with reading.

The SMART goal-setting technique should be utilized to create and journal about their learning goals:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Reasonable
  • Time-limited

Valuing the goal-making process (and the journey to achieving the goal) by doing goal-based journaling enhances the creation of a growth mindset. The journaling process allows them to remove the fixed mindset and focus on persistence in accomplishing their goals. The result of goal-based journaling is the realization that their learning abilities can always improve.

8. Help Students Change their Language

While you are changing your language to foster a growth mindset, work on getting your students to do the same.

Dweck says when students don’t do well, they see their lack of success as punishment for having a poor performance. However, you can erase this fixed mindset about poor performance by teaching students to see difficulty as an opportunity to enhance their skills and mastery of the topic.

The primary means of shifting their mindset from fixed to growth is to change the language they use when their performance is less than satisfactory.

You might want to display a poster about how language can promote either a fixed or growth mindset:

As stated above, the poster will remind students to consider how their language can help or hinder a growth mindset.

9. Say “Yet” More Often

As already stated in point 8, language helps students shift their way of perceiving lack of success.  Using the term “yet” at the end of a statement that was once used to reinforce a fixed mindset (like statements that start with “I can’t” or “I don’t”) can transform that statement into a positive affirmation that encourages the student to remain persistent in trying until the goal is accomplished. Thus, the term “yet” shifts the students’ mindset from negative to positive.

See for yourself by adding “yet” to the end of these sentences:

  • I can’t do fractions.
  • I don’t understand the story enough to answer this question.
  • I don’t understand subject-verb agreement.

The goal is to teach your students to use the term “yet” each time you get the urge to use statements that start with “can’t” or “don’t.”

Saying “yet” implies that the mastery of any given skill or topic is certain if the student is willing to try and employ different strategies to accomplish the task.

10. Transform Learning Logs into Success Folders

Students may not be able to recall all the accomplishments and improvements they have made throughout the semester or year, so it is a good idea to have them document their progress as they go by creating success folders.

A success folder is like a modified learning log that is tailored to the growth mindset.  It’s an extension of goal-based journaling. To create a success folder:

  • Make the Folders Speak Success— Each student’s folder can be made of sturdy paper or cardboard. On the folder’s cover, have them depict success as they see it. Their depiction can be a picture or a written description (like a short story) that defines what success means to them.
  • Make the Folders Uniquely Theirs— Students can place examples of successes they have had in the folder every day or once a week. These examples can be sample assignments they did well on, a summary of what they learned (like the information found in a traditional learning log) or a brief discussion of a new concept they have studied.
  • Make Time for Reflection— Start off each week with allowing students to review their folder. This review allows them to reflect on their growth as a learner and provides them with the motivation needed to continue progressing.  

The success folder can have a tremendous impact in your classroom if you give it a chance.

11. More Praise for Cooperative Learning

Research on cooperative learning has proven that this strategy promotes more ownership of learning, which also motivates students to develop a growth mindset.

12. Valuing the Process of Learning In Lieu of Just Grades

Students tend to equate intelligence and educational value with the type of grades they get. To remove that fixed mindset, educators need to start teaching students to value the learning process by stressing the importance of the learning process itself instead of stressing the importance of good grades.

13. Adopt Micro-Goals

Valuing the process involves establishing micro-goals, which are more like milestones along the way to achieving a bigger objective. Micro-goals allow students to celebrate the process of learning and encourages them to keep moving forward until the goal is achieved.

14. Keep in mind that people can have a fixed mindset on some things and a growth mindset on other things.

Most educators probably have a growth mindset concerning educational things.  However, when it comes to other aspects of their lives, they probably have a growth mindset on some things and a fixed mindset on others. Our students are no different. We need to realize there are some students who have poor performance in school because of a fixed mindset, but they may have a growth mindset when it comes to playing video games or even when they play their favorite sport. Giving praise for how well they perform when playing games or playing sports can encourage them to adopt the same mindset for learning in school.

15. Begin Your Adoption of Fostering the Growth Mindset by Giving Lessons on Brain Science

Many educators may not feel like this concept is needed when instilling a growth mindset, but it is. Dweck’s research stresses the importance of providing lessons on brain science to make students aware of the various parts of the brain and how they function. They need to be aware that learning new things helps to grow their brains. So, it will be beneficial to your students to offer class activities and class discussions on the brain and how it functions. Doing so will make them more receptive to embracing the growth mindset.

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Priorities and deliverables:
Define manual and automated test strategy, create and execute test cases, and
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with Management, Developers, and other team members
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Advanced SQL skills writing complex queries
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Hands-on experiences are one of the best ways to learn and make education more engaging. Give your students the opportunity to make lasting memories and to learn something new as you consider this list of free activities and field trip locations, from great works of art to the great outdoors! If you’re a teacher or a parent looking for free learning opportunities for your curious crew, check out one of these free field trip destinations around the great state of Ohio! Please note that large groups sometimes require advance reservations; be sure to contact the organization you’re interested in directly for more information.

In and around Akron, Ohio

Akron Police Museum

For those interested in law and order, consider a tour of the Akron Police Museum and learn about the history of the Akron Police Department. Police equipment, uniforms spanning the decades, historical photos, and a 1965 Harley-Davidson police motorcycle are some of the displays you will encounter in the museum.

Operating Hours: Monday-Friday, 8:00am-3:30pm

Notes: Check the website or contact the Community Relations Department for current hours and availability of tours.

Website: https://www.downtownakron.com/go/akron-police-museum   

Phone: 330-375-2390

Akron Art Museum

Live creatively! Thursdays are free admission days at the Akron Art Museum, so visit their renowned collection of modern and contemporary art! Growing from a small, eclectic collection housed in two borrowed rooms in the basement of the public library, the Akron Art Museum has blossomed into a 63,000 square foot location filled with a variety of art and artists, rotating exhibits, and art programs for children and adults of the Akron community.

Admission to the Bud & Susie Rogers Garden on the Museum grounds is free.

Operating Hours: Gallery Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 11am-5pm; Thursday, 11am-9pm Bud & Susie Rogers Garden Hours: Monday-Friday, 9am-6pm; Thursday, 9am-9pm; Saturday and Sunday, 10am-5pm

Notes: Gallery and Museum are closed Mondays and most major holidays

Website: https://akronartmuseum.org/

Phone: 330-376-9185

The Butler Institute of American Art

This museum celebrates American art and showcases the works of American artists in all media. With over 20,000 individual works, the Butler is considered “America’s Museum”. From their locations in Youngstown and Howland Township, the museum holds juried exhibitions and rotating collections of art ranging from printmaking to photography. Their “Arts in the Early Morning Programs” offer free activities focused on specific age groups from strollers to seniors – check out their website for a complete calendar of events.    

Operating Hours: The Butler Institute of American Art (Youngstown): Tuesday-Saturday, 11:00am-4:00pm, Sunday 12:00pm-4:00pm; closed Mondays and major holidays. The Butler Trumball Branch (Howland): Wednesday-Saturday, 11:00am-4:00pm, Sunday 12:00pm-4pm, Closed Mondays, Tuesdays, and major holidays.

Notes: Guided tours available

Website: https://www.butlerart.com  

Phone: 330-743-1107 (Youngstown); 330-609-9900 (Howland)

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Part of the National Park Service, the Cuyahoga Valley Park is full of activities and adventure for all ages! Visit the Park’s website for a list of daily activities and events and plan to visit the Boston Store Visitor Center at the start of your trip to familiarize yourself with all the Park has to offer. The Canal Exploration Center is a historic building that now houses an interactive Canal Era exhibit for children and adults. The Hunt House offers child-friendly, hands-on nature exhibits. Rangers and volunteers are available throughout the Park to answer questions or provide guidance. The Park offers a variety of day field trips and student explorer opportunities; please check the website for details.

Operating Hours: Open every day of the year; Boston Store Visitor Center closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day

Notes: Some areas close at dusk, the remaining areas are open 24/7 – check the website for a list of closed areas; some activities within the park do charge a fee (i.e., the scenic train ride) – check the website for fees

Website: https://www.nps.gov/cuva/index.htm

Phone: 330-657-2752

In and around Ashland County, Ohio

Ashland County Historical Society

Did you know that Ashland, Ohio was once the balloon capital of the world? Learn more about Ashland County’s rich history with a visit to the Ashland Historical Society. Comprised of three fully restored historical houses and a nineteenth-century barn, visitors can step back in time to experience Ashland at the turn of the 19th century, visit what was possibly the first brick house built in the town, and browse through antiques and collectibles, including photos, newspaper clippings, and histories of the county. There is a collection of military weapons and other collectibles and the Veteran’s History Committee is recording the oral histories of Ashland County veterans, the videos of which are kept in the Society’s library and are accessible for public viewing. Don’t forget to check out the Thornburg Insect Collection, one of the largest collections in the U.S.!

Operating Hours: Mondays and Wednesdays, 11:00am-2:00pm (April through December)

Website: http://www.ashlandhistory.org

Phone: 419-289-3111

Ashland Symphony Orchestra

Music lovers, rejoice! The Ashland Symphony Orchestra presents a variety of free concerts and events throughout the year and offers some outreach programs free of charge. Check out their website for a complete calendar of events or to schedule a visit with a Conductor or Musical Ensemble.

Operating Hours: Office hours for Orchestra Tickets are Tuesday-Friday, 9am-12pm.

Website: http://www.ashlandsymphony.org/

Phone: 419-289-5115

In and around Athens, Ohio

Kennedy Museum of Art, Athens

Located on the campus of Ohio University, Athens, the Kennedy Museum of Art is open to the public for viewing of its national and international exhibitions. Collections of Southwest Native American textiles, ceramics, and jewelry; American paintings; drawings and photography; contemporary prints; and ceramics and sculpture make up its permanent collections and exhibitions. Rotating visiting exhibitions and collections are also on display – check the website for current exhibitions.

Operating Hours: Monday-Wednesday, 10:00am-5:00pm; Thursday, 10:00am-8:00pm; Friday, 10:00am-5:00pm; Saturday-Sunday, 1:00pm-5:00pm

Notes: Closed on University holidays

Website:  ohio.edu/museum

Phone: 740-593-1304

In and around Canton, Ohio

Beaver Creek Wildlife Education Center

Learn about the wildlife in your own backyard! The Beaver Creek Wildlife Education Center offers displays of Ohio and North American wildlife, a kids’ discovery room, a snake and insect display, and Native American artifacts for visitors to learn about and view. Programs including learning about local reptiles, a wildflower hike, and a butterfly activity for the whole family are offered free of charge. Check their website for an updated calendar of events.

Operating Hours: Saturday and Sunday, 1:00pm-5:00pm (first weekend of May through the first weekend of October)

Notes: Some workshops require pre-registration due to space limitations.

Website: https://www.beavercreekwildlife.org

Phone: 757-876-5438

Canton Museum of Art

Calling all art enthusiasts! The Canton Museum of Art showcases a collection of American watercolors and works on paper from the 19th century to the present and contemporary ceramics and sculpture. The museum also offers art workshops for all ages, though fees may apply. Their artisan boutique located on-site supports local Ohio designers and artists by showcasing local artisan crafts.

Operating Hours: Tuesday-Thursday, 10:00am-8:00pm; Friday and Saturday, 10:00am-5:00pm; Sunday 1:00pm-5:00pm

Notes: Free admission to the gallery every Thursday and free the first Friday of every month; regular hours do not apply during exhibit installation and changeovers or special event periods, so please check the website or the museum’s Facebook page for updated hours.

Website: https://www.cantonart.org

Phone: 330-453-7666

In and around Cincinnati, Ohio

Cincinnati Art Museum

Get lost in time with a visit to the Cincinnati Art Museum. With a collection of more than 67,000 pieces of artwork spanning 6,000 years and multiple continents, visitors are invited to view the permanent collection and the traveling exhibits hosted throughout the year. Wander the Museum on your own or sign up for a free docent-led tour, available daily. The Museum offers a wide range of art-related programs for all ages – visit their website for more details.

Operating Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 11:00am-5:00pm; Thursday, 11:00am-8:00pm

Notes: Closed Mondays, general admission to the museum is free, though there may be a fee for some special exhibitions – check the website for details

Website: http://www.cincinnatiartmuseum.org/

Phone: 513-721-2787

Cincinnati Library

More than just a public library, the Cincinnati Library has a variety of programs geared toward all ages, from kids to teens to adults and seniors. From homework help to the Veterans History Project, the Cincinnati Library offers thousands of free programs each year for all ages. Check their website for a complete list.

Operating Hours: Main Library: Monday-Wednesday, 9:00am-9:00pm; Thursday-Saturday, 9:00am-6:00pm; Sunday, 1:00pm-5:00pm

Notes: Check the website for a current list of events – some may require registration

Website: http://www.cincinnatilibrary.org

Phone: 513-369-6900

Contemporary Arts Center

Tired of the same old, same old? A visit to the Contemporary Arts Center will cure that as the Center is a non-collecting institution, meaning that there is no permanent collection housed there and the exhibitions on view are temporary displays and are constantly changing. Encouraging artists everywhere to experience contemporary art, the Center hosts community events, exhibitions, performances, and art outreach programs for all ages – visit their website for details.

Operating Hours: Saturday-Monday, 10:00am-4:00pm, Wednesday-Friday, 10:00am-9:00pm

Notes: No backpacks, large bags, food, or drink in the Galleries

Website: https://www.contemporaryartscenter.org/

Phone: 513-345-8400

Eden Park

Take a nature walk in the heart of Cincinnati. Eden Park and its 186 acres is home to a variety of city landmarks and memorials, the Cincinnati Art Museum, the Krohn Conservatory, and Hinkle Magnolia Garden. With picnic areas and playground features, stroll through the park and enjoy scenic river and lake views, public art, and manicured gardens. Check the website for a calendar of free community events.

Operating Hours: Daily, 6:00am-10:00pm

Website: http://www.cincinnatiparks.com/central/eden-park/

Phone: 513-357-2604

In and around Cleveland, Ohio

Baseball Heritage Museum

Celebrate America’s favorite pastime with a trip to the Baseball Heritage Museum in Cleveland, Ohio. Share in the love of the game viewing memorabilia and equipment from major names in baseball and the unsung heroes. Exhibits showcasing women’s baseball, baseball in Cuba, and Satchell Paige’s Traveling All-Stars are among the exhibits on display.

Operating Hours: Summer Hours: Saturdays, 10:00am-4:00pm; Sundays, 12:00pm-4:00pm; Wednesdays and Fridays, 1:00pm-5:00pm

Notes: Hours vary by season – check website for current hours

Website: http://baseballheritagemuseum.org

Phone: 216-789-1083

Cleveland Cultural Gardens

A collection of more than 30 gardens representing the diversity and multiculturalism of Cleveland, the Cleveland Cultural Gardens are a beautiful way to enjoy Cleveland. From Albanian to Vietnamese gardens, each garden section is carefully designed and cultivated by cultural or national groups. And with the wide variety of gardens, something is always in bloom. In addition to the flora, the gardens also include depictions of notable cultural figures and monuments to specific achievements of each nation. The Gardens are a part of Rockefeller Park and extend roughly 1.5 miles on MLK and East Boulevards. There are also a variety of events held in the park and various gardens, so visit their website for an up-to-date list of events. The One World Day celebration held at the end of the summer is an especially popular event.

Operating Hours: Daily

Notes: Walking tours may be booked – contact the organization regarding fees and scheduling

Website: http://www.clevelandculturalgardens.org/

Phone: 216-220-3075

Cleveland Institute of Music

Enjoy an evening (or morning or afternoon) of classical music! The Cleveland Institute of Music is an independent music conservatory that offers free concerts and master classes to the public. CIM is one of three music conservatories in the US devoted exclusively to the performance of classical music. They have world-renowned musicians and conductors speak and perform as part of their concert series. Check their website for a list of free to the public concerts and events available.

Operating Hours: Concert and event hours vary

Notes: Some events require the purchase of a ticket or seating pass

Website: https://www.cim.edu/concerts-events

Phone: 216-791-5000

Cleveland Museum of Art

When Jeptha Wade deeded the land the museum now sits, he noted that it was to be used “for the benefit of all the people forever”. Thus, the Cleveland Museum of Art is committed to welcoming members of the community and visitors to the area into its collection art representing the human experience. The Cleveland Museum of Art opened in 1916 to serve a community seeking a comprehensive art museum. In its 100+ year history, the Cleveland Museum of Art has established art programs for children and adults and has gained an international reputation in its collection of significant works. Rotating exhibitions and permanent collections inspire all who share the experience of being human.  

Operating Hours: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday: 10:00am-5:00pm; Wednesday and Friday, 10:00am-9:00pm.

Notes: The Museum is closed on Mondays; some exhibits may require the purchase of tickets – see the website for a list of events, performances, and exhibits; some events are free, but require registration – see the website for a list of events, performances, and exhibits.

Website: http://www.clevelandart.org/

Phone: 216-421-7350

Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland

Do you like money? The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland offers hands-on, interactive exhibits to teach visitors about personal finance, economics, and the history of money. You can trade on Barter Island to test your ability to trade for what you need in a world without money, stand beneath their 23-foot money tree, see if you can spot counterfeit money, and pick up a free financial skills booklet that introduces kids to the concept of money.

Operating Hours: Monday-Thursday, 9:30am-2:30pm

Notes: Visitors age 16 and older must present a valid driver’s license, school ID, or other photo ID for admission into the building; closed Fridays and for occasional special events – call or check the website before arriving; group tours may be scheduled in advance for groups larger than 10 and may be scheduled for Tuesdays at 2:00pm or Thursdays at 10:00am.

Website: https://www.clevelandfed.org/learningcenter

Phone: 216-579-3188

Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument

Remember the sacrifices made by the soldiers and sailors who have fought for American values and freedom when you visit the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument in the Public Square of Cleveland, Ohio. The monument commemorates the American Civil War and consists of a 125-foot column with a Memorial Room and esplanade at its base. The interior of the monument is newly renovated, with its original coloration restored, new lighting, and refurbished stained glass windows. The Tablet Walls list the names of honored veterans who have served their country.

Operating Hours: Daily from 10:00am-5:30pm with additional hours as posted

Notes: Hours vary by season – check the website for current hours

Website: http://www.soldiersandsailors.com

Phone: 216-621-3710

In and around Columbus, Ohio

Al’s Delicious Popcorn Tour

If the smell of popcorn sets your mouth to watering, check out the free tours offered at Al’s Delicious Popcorn. A small, family-owned and operated business, Al’s obsession with delivering a quality product has resulted in a wide variety of hand-crafted gourmet popcorn selections that you can sample for a small fee at the end of your tour!

Operating Hours: Tours are offered January 15th through September 15th and you must make an appointment ahead of time

Notes: Tours are available by appointment ONLY, and are offered at 11:30am or 1:30pm Monday-Friday; tours are free, but sample bags are $1.25-$1.50 and must be ordered ahead of time so they are available at the end of your tour.

Website: http://www.alspopcorn.com 

Phone: 614-451-7677

Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum

Looking for a little humor? Billy Ireland was a self-taught cartoonist who worked for the Columbus Dispatch newspaper drawing editorial cartoons. He also penned a weekly feature, The Passing Show, a full-page color strip published every Sunday. His work targeted local politics, culture, and the locally beloved Ohio State sports teams. The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum, part of the Ohio State University Library system, is home to the world’s largest collection of cartoon and comic-related materials, including original art by Ireland and others, comic books, archival materials, and newspaper comic strip pages and clippings.

Operating Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 1:00pm-5:00pm

Notes: Closed Mondays and major holidays – check the website for a complete list; the site may also be closed during exhibit installations

Website: https://cartoons.osu.edu

Phone: 614-292-0538

Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

Located just two miles east of downtown Columbus, Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens operates from within Franklin Park and offers visitors a look at lush gardens, special seasonal horticulture and art exhibitions, and a variety of botanical biomes. The Scotts Miracle-Gro Community Garden Campus, a 4-acre garden with community garden plots, a rose pavilion, and berry house, is free and open to the public daily from dawn to dusk.

On the first Sunday of each month, the Conservatory is free for residents of Franklin County and the City of Columbus (with valid ID) during normal operating hours of 10am to 5pm. Check their website or call the location to inquire about other free events sponsored by the Conservatory.

Operating Hours: 10am-5pm daily

Website: https://www.fpconservatory.org/

Phone: 614-715-8000

Ohio Statehouse

Visit a working body of government as you tour the Ohio Statehouse, Senate Building, and Atrium. Completed in 1861, the Statehouse is an example of Greek Revival architecture while the Senate Building boasts the Grand Stair Hall, created in Carrara marble with murals on the ceiling. The Atrium is a recent addition, completed in 1993 as a connector between the Statehouse and the Senate Building. However, the Atrium is home to the Lincoln Plaque, commemorating Abraham Lincoln’s visit to Ohio in 1859 where he spoke from the area where the Atrium is now located. All of these buildings, as well as the statues and monuments located throughout the 10-acres that make up Capitol Square are open to the public.

Operating Hours: Monday-Friday 8:00am-5:00pm; Saturday-Sunday, 11:00am-5:00pm

Notes: Free guided tours are offered Monday-Friday every hour on the hour from 10:00am-3:00pm and Saturday-Sunday every hour from 12:00pm-3:00pm. “Monument Cell Phone Tours” are also available to learn about the history of the monuments on the Capitol grounds – check the website for instructions; the Ohio Statehouse is closed on major holidays – see the website for a complete list.

Website: http://www.ohiostatehouse.org

Phone: 614-752-9777

Riffe Gallery

Immerse yourself in Ohio art and culture as the Ohio Arts Council showcases the work of Ohio artists and curators with rotating exhibitions at the Riffe Gallery. Events and programs including “Artist Talks” are free and open to the public. See their website for current exhibitions.

Operating Hours: Monday-Wednesday and Friday, 10:00am-5:00pm; Thursday, 10:00am-8:00pm; Saturday, 11:00am-4:00pm

Website: http://www.oac.ohio.gov/Riffe-Gallery/On-View

Phone: 614-728-2239

Robbins Hunter Museum

On the National Register of Historic Places, this historic house museum is filled with 18th and 19th-century decorative arts collected by the home’s original owners and added to over the years. Completed in 1842 and serving as a private residence until 1903, the Avery-Downer House, which houses the Robbins Hunter Museum, was also used as a fraternity house until the 1950s when it again became a private residence and then was transformed into a museum to celebrate this stellar example of Greek Revival architecture in the heart of Granville, Ohio. Rotating exhibits and events on the museum grounds and gardens are accessible to the public.  

Operating Hours: Wednesday-Saturday, 1:00pm-4:00pm (April-December)

Notes: Admission is free, though donations are graciously accepted. If you are going with a group of 10 or more, you must make a reservation and pay $5/person. Special exhibitions may require purchased tickets for entrance. 

Website: http://www.robbinshunter.org/

Phone: 740-587-0430

Thurber House

“Where laughter, learning, and literature meet.” This is the tagline for the Thurber House, a museum, of sorts, dedicated to literacy and literature. Housed in the home of James Thurber, celebrated humorist, author, and New Yorker cartoonist, the literacy center hosts author readings, writing classes for children and adults, and awards the prestigious Thurber Prize for American Humor. The museum portion of the home includes a wide range of Thurber memorabilia.

Operating Hours: Daily, 1:00pm-4:00pm

Notes: Self-guided tours are free; guided tours are available ($4 for adults, $2 for students and seniors) on Sunday afternoons, from 1:00pm-4:00pm; some programs and events are fee-based – see website for details.

Website: http://www.thurberhouse.org

Phone: 614-464-1032

Topiary Park

Is that a…monkey?!? Come see living art at the Topiary Park in Columbus, Ohio. This garden is a landscape of a painting of a landscape and the vision of sculptor James T. Mason, who created the idea of bringing George Seurat’s famous painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of La Grande Jatte to life through topiary. Located on the grounds of what was once the Ohio School for the Deaf, the 7-acre park is meticulously landscaped and includes more than 220 trees, a variety of flowerbeds, and of course the topiary figures.

Operating Hours: Seasonal: May-September, weather and conditions permitting, open daily, 11:00am-3:00pm

Notes: Check the website for off-season event openings and park hours

Website: http://www.topiarypark.org

Phone: 614-645-0197

In and around Dayton, Ohio

Aullwood Audubon Center and Farm

An environmental education and nature center, Aullwood Audubon Center provides activities and programs that help the community learn and understand about the preservation of the planet. With miles of walking trails and over 200 acres of nature sanctuary, thousands of people come each year to get back to nature.

Operating Hours: Monday-Saturday, 9:00am-5:00pm, Sunday 1:00pm-5:00pm

Notes: There is a daily admission fee, but check the website for the calendar of free events.

Website: http://aullwood.audubon.org

Phone: 937-890-7360

Aullwood Garden

Aullwood Garden, part of the Five Rivers Metroparks organization, is named in honor of Marie Aull, the “godmother of the environmental movement in southwestern Ohio”. The grounds include expansive gardens, a native prairie, and giant oak, ash, and sycamore trees, including the 600-year old “Marie’s Sycamore”, which was growing at the time Columbus sailed to the Americas. The Aull House, dating back to 1907, is open occasionally for tours. Wander the mile-long garden path to enjoy the variety of flowers, catch a glimpse of butterflies, and see hummingbirds, finches, and sparrows in their native prairie habitat.

Operating Hours: April 1-October 31, 8:00am-10:00pm; November 1-March 31, 8:00am-8:00pm

Website: https://www.metroparks.org/places-to-go/aullwood-garden/

Phone: 937-275-7275

Bear’s Mill

Step back in time by visiting the Bear’s Mill, one of the few water-powered mills still in operation today. Grain takes a journey through the Mill’s four-stories, passing through French Buhr millstones to be ground into healthy, minimally processed flours and meals. Numbered signs located throughout the Mill building provide insight and history of the Mill’s role in the community. In addition to its rustic setting, Bear’s Mill also features a rotating exhibition of art and photography of the region.

Operating Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 11:00am-5:00pm; Sunday, 1:00pm-5:00pm

Notes: Free self-guided tours can be taken through each floor of the mill or organized tours are available for a fee.

Website: http://www.bearsmill.org/

Phone: 937-548-5112

Brukner Nature Center

Enjoy some time outdoors and perhaps catch a glimpse of some local birds and wildlife with a visit to the Brukner Nature Center. Committed wildlife conservation and rehabilitation, the 165-acre wildlife preserve has 6 miles of hiking trails, an Interpretive Center with seasonal wildlife exhibits, and a log house dating back to 1804. The Nature Library is open to the public and has an extensive collection of picture books for children. Visitors can also visit the Tree-Top Bird Vista, a premier birding spot for bird enthusiasts.

Operating Hours: Interpretive Center Hours: Monday-Saturday, 9:00am-5:00pm; Sunday, 12:30pm-5:00pm; Brukner Nature Center trails are open sunrise to sunset 7 days a week

Notes: Sunday admission is free, there is a $2.50 charge per person all other days of the week; Interpretive Building is closed on major holidays and for special events, so please check the calendar on the website; no credit cards; no pets

Website: http://www.bruknernaturecenter.com  

Phone: 937-698-6493

Carriage Hill

If a return to simpler times is what you are looking for, you’ll find it at Carriage Hill. Part of the Five Rivers Metroparks organization, Carriage Hill includes a Visitor’s Center with an interactive “classroom” for the kids, fishing at Cedar Lake, and miles of hiking trails. The historical farm on Carriage Hill recreates what life on a family farm was like in the 1880s. Volunteers and staff demonstrate period farming techniques and domestic activities throughout the year. Visitors can explore the blacksmith shop, historic farmhouse, barn, and woodshop. Heirloom vegetables grow in the garden and a variety of farm animals call Carriage Hill home.

Operating Hours: April-October: Visitor Center, Tuesday-Saturday, 10:00am-5:00pm; Sunday, 12:00pm-5:00pm; Historical Farm Grounds: Tuesday-Sunday 8:00am-5:00pm; Historical Farm Buildings: Tuesday-Saturday, 10:00am-5:00pm; Sunday, 12:00pm-5:00pm; November-March: Visitor Center, Tuesday-Sunday 12:00pm-4:00pm; Historical Farm Grounds: Tuesday-Sunday, 8:00am-4:00pm; Historical Buildings: Saturday-Sunday, 12:00pm-4:00pm

Notes: The Carriage Hill Metropark Riding Center offers trail rides, though fees may apply; check the website for a calendar of events and daily demonstrations; guided tours are available for groups of 10 or more, call the site to schedule; all farm facilities are closed on Mondays.

Website: https://www.metroparks.org/places-to-go/carriage-hill/

Phone: 937-275-7275

Cox Arboretum

Master the maze! Hike the trails! Visit the butterfly house! A trip to the Cox Arboretum, part of the Five Rivers Metroparks organization, keeps visitors busy with a wide variety of activities. The butterfly house features native pollinator plants that attract birds, bees, and butterflies and has tips on how to make home gardens more pollinator-friendly, which helps make the garden and environment healthier. The Barbara Cox Center for Sustainable Horticulture offers opportunities for visitors to learn about sustainability and horticulture while the Tree Tower offers an 81-step climb up a Douglas Fir to witness breathtaking panoramic views from 65 feet above the conifer collection at the park. The Bell Children’s Maze challenges kids (and adults!) to navigate their way through 1,175 boxwoods to the center of the maze – and back again!

Operating Hours: Park Hours: April 1-October 31, 8:00am-10:00pm; November 1-March 31, 8:00am-8:00pm; Zorniger Education Center Hours: open year-round, Monday-Friday, 8:00am-5:00pm and Saturday-Sunday, 11:00am-4:00pm.

Website: https://www.metroparks.org/places-to-go/cox-arboretum/

Phone: 937-275-7275

Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park

Explore the “Birthplace of Aviation” with a trip to the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park. The park consists of 5 locations in and around Dayton, Ohio, but the start of things is at the Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center where you can explore the early careers of Wilbur and Orville Wright as printers and newspaper editors. With historical artifacts, memorabilia, and photographs learn about the impact and contributions these brothers made to modern aviation.

Operating Hours:

Notes: There are some fees to enter parts of the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park – check the website for a list and for an updated calendar of free events, exhibitions, and opportunities.

Website: https://www.nps.gov/daav/index.htm

Phone: 937-225-7705

Englewood Metropark

Relax to the peaceful sound of waterfalls with a visit to Englewood Metropark, part of the Five Rivers Metropark system. Limestone and shale rocks are being carved by a series of three waterfalls, accessible on the green trail loop. Test your frisbee skills with a round of disc golf at the Blue Heron Disc Golf Course, located within the park. The Benedict Blincoe Wildlife Observation Area boasts one of the best birding sites in the area, along with possible sightings of beaver, muskrat, and raccoons.

Operating Hours: Park Hours: April 1-October 31, 8:00am-10:00pm; November 1-March 31, 8:00am-8:00pm

Notes: The lake on Martindale Road is open 24/7 for fishing and the North Park fishing ponds are open 24/7 from April 1-October 31 for fishing only; fishing activities may include fees – check the website for details.

Website: https://www.metroparks.org/places-to-go/englewood/

Phone: 937-275-7275

Germantown Metropark

Hike the 15+ miles of wooded trails, sit by the Twin Creek stream, be awed by the largest old-growth woodland in Montgomery County, and take in the spectacular views from the Valley Overlook. All of this and more await you at the Germantown Metropark, part of the Five Rivers Metroparks system, just 20 minutes from Dayton. The Welcome Center orients visitors to the area and provides interpretive displays about the local flora and fauna while hiking trails await those looking for adventure in a beautiful natural setting.

Operating Hours: April 1-October 31, 8:00am-10:00pm; November 1-March 31, 8:00am-8:00pm

Website: https://www.metroparks.org/places-to-go/germantown/

Phone: 937-275-7275

National Museum of the US Air Force

Attention pilots and aviation buffs! The National Museum of the US Air Force presents military aviation history along with historical and sensory exhibits designed to bring history to life. From flight’s early beginnings to the research and development that will launch us into advanced aerospace understanding, visitors can view the missile and space galleries, warplane examples, and see how American presidents from Roosevelt to Clinton traveled in the Presidential Gallery. The Memorial Park on the Museum’s grounds honors those who have served in Air Force-associated units for their service and sacrifice to defend the principles of American freedom.

Operating Hours: Daily, 9:00am-5:00pm

Notes: Some exhibits have special hours – check the website for details; there is a charge for the AF Museum Theater and the flight simulators; adults may be asked to show picture ID before entering

Website: http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil

Phone: 937-255-3286

Paul Laurence Dunbar House Historic Site

“I hope there is something worthy in my writings and not merely the novelty of a black face associated with the power to rhyme that has attracted attention.” – Paul Laurence Dunbar  

The fully restored home of acclaimed African-American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar is open for free tours for visitors to view some of Dunbar’s literary treasures, personal items, and family furnishings. Dunbar’s bicycle, a gift from neighbors Orville and Wilbur Wright, is on display, as is the desk and chair where Dunbar penned some of his most famous works. Also on display is Dunbar’s collection of Native American art and a ceremonial sword gifted to Dunbar by President Theodore Roosevelt, for whom Dunbar wrote a campaign poem. The house has been restored to the appearance it had when Dunbar and his mother lived there (early 20th century).

Operating Hours: Friday-Sunday, 10:00am-4:00pm

Notes: Hours tours are given throughout the day, with the last tour departing at 3:30pm

Website: www.ohiohistory.org/visit/museum-and-site-locator/paul-laurence-dunbar-house

Phone: 800-860-0148

Possum Creek

Visit the Education Center at Possum Creek to learn about local food and the environment. The “Edible Farm” located in the park, part of the Five Rivers Metropark system, promotes small-scale food raising for the local community and encourages novice “urban farmers” to expand their yards’ potential beyond just growing fruits and vegetables. Argonne Lake provides free-of-charge fishing, while the Argonne Forest and the Jean V. Woodhull Prairie offer visitors a glimpse into the history of land use in the area and promotes the need to conserve natural space in its natural state.

Operating Hours: Park Hours: April-October, 10:00am-10:00pm; November-March, 10:00am-8:00pm; Farm buildings at the Edible Farm are open 9:00am-3:30pm daily

Website: https://www.metroparks.org/places-to-go/possum-creek/

Phone: 937-275-7275

Taylorsville Metropark

A popular fishing and hiking spot, Taylorsville Metropark is part of the Five Rivers Metroparks system. It sits at what was once the bustling trades town of Tadmor, one of the busiest crossroads in the country. The Old National Road, Great Miami River, the Miami-Erie Canal and multiple railroads all converged here and Tadmor was considered one of the most important transportation centers in the country. Today the Park has more than 8 miles of trail, some through old-growth forest and with spectacular river views, remnants of the great Miami-Erie Canal, and visitors can walk up stone stairs to explore small caverns created by water traveling through the stone over time.

Operating Hours: April 1-October 31, 8:00am-10:00pm; November 1-March 31, 8:00am-8:00pm

Website: https://www.metroparks.org/places-to-go/taylorsville/

Phone: 937-275-7275

Wegerzyn Gardens

Get your green thumb blooming with a visit to Wegerzyn Gardens. Part of the Five Rivers Metroparks organization, a trip to Wgerzyn Gardens will help inspire your inner gardener. With insight and expertise from volunteers, visitors can learn about native plants, view design ideas for their own gardens, and discover environmentally-friendly plant combinations and cultivation techniques successful in the Miami Valley. There is also a Children’s Discovery Garden where little gardeners can get their shovels dirty and build a love for gardening.

Operating Hours: April 1-October 31, 8:00am-10:00pm; November 1-March 31, 8:00am-8:00pm; Children’s Discovery Garden Hours: March 1-March 31, 10:00am-8:00pm; April 1-October 31, 10:00am-10:00pm; November 1-December 31, 10:00am-8:00pm (closed January and February)

Notes: The water feature in the Children’s Discovery Garden is open Memorial Day through Labor Day, 10:00am-8:00pm.

Website: https://www.metroparks.org/places-to-go/wegerzyn-gardens/

Phone: 937-275-7275

In and around East Liverpool, Ohio

Beaver Creek State Park and Pioneer Village

Pioneer Village, located within Beaver Creek State Park, is a collection of log structures built in the same fashion and using the same materials as the original log structures of the early 19th century. The grist mill, canal lock, blacksmith shop, log cabin, chapel, schoolhouse, and covered bridge take visitors back to life in a pioneer village. A collection of antiques and replicas of items used by early pioneers in their daily lives are on display throughout the village.

Operating Hours: Saturday and Sunday, 12:00pm-4:00pm, May-October

Website: http://friendsofbeavercreekstatepark.org/

Phone: 740-632-1450

In and around Hocking County, Ohio

Conkle’s Hollow State Nature Preserve

Conkle’s Hollow is a State Nature Preserve, meaning that the area tries to balance user access with the least amount of physical impact on the environment and natural ecosystem. Conkle’s Hollow is famous for its sheer Black Hand sandstone cliffs and a deep gorge that runs through the Hollow’s floor. Beautiful scenic views abound, the Lower Gorge Trail has been redesigned to accommodate visitors of all abilities, and there are 3.5 miles of trails to explore.

Operating Hours: Daily, 30 minutes before sunrise-30 minutes after sunset

Notes: Drinking water is not available on-site; see website for a complete list of rules and regulations

Website: ohttp://naturepreserves.ohiodnr.gov/conkleshollow

Phone: 614-265-6561

Hocking Hills State Park

Hocking Hills State Park is a part of the Ohio State Parks and Watercraft system. Explore the hollows and caves that have seen human contact for more than 7,000 years, carved into the sandstone and shale rocks that illustrate the geological history of Ohio. Naturalists and docent volunteers are on-hand to answer any questions.

Operating Hours: Daily, 30 minutes before sunrise-30 minutes after sunset

Notes: Check the website for updated events, closures, and conditions

Website: ohiodnr.gov

Phone: 740-385-6842

In and around Jackson Center, Ohio

Airstream Factory Tour

If you have kids who love anything with wheels, check out this American classic! Watch the Airstream assembly process from parts to hand rivets. Airstream Factory Tours are available Monday-Friday at 2pm and last approximately 1.5-2 hours over a one-mile walk. Please show up approximately 15 minutes early for the tour and wear close-toed shoes; hearing and eye protection will be provided.

Operating Hours: 8am-4pm, Monday-Friday

Notes: Tours offered at 2pm only; Friday tours may not include the plant in full production; call in advance to verify tour schedule or to make a reservation for groups of 10 or more

Website: https://www.airstream.com/company/tours/

Phone: 877-596-6111

In and around Sugarcreek, Ohio

Alpine Hills Historical Museum

The Alpine Hills Historical Museum in Sugarcreek, Ohio is a complete introduction to Amish Country. The free tour begins with a short video exploring Amish culture and introducing visitors to the Swiss immigrants’ impact on local history. Historical artifacts and exhibits await visitors to the museum and no trip would be complete without a try at playing their Alphorn! Across the street, you will find the World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock and The Brick Wall Sculpture, a collection of 13 sculptured brick panels chronicling the local history of the area.

Operating Hours: Open April 1st – October 31st; Monday-Thursday 9:00am-4:00pm; Friday and Saturday 9:00am-5:00pm, Closed Sundays

Notes: Although there is no admission fee, donations are always accepted and greatly appreciated to help defray the costs associated with museum upkeep

Website: http://alpinehills.webstarts.com

Phone: 888-609-7592

In and around Toledo, Ohio

Bowling Green State University Fine Arts Galleries

Celebrate the arts with exhibitions of student and faculty work, in addition to nationally recognized artists, by visiting the Fine Arts Galleries located on the campus of Bowling Green State University. The Dorothy Uber Bryan Gallery boasts over 4,600 square feet of large-scale contemporary artwork pieces; within the Hiroko Nakamoto Gallery is an authentic Japanese tea ceremony room; the Little Gallery welcomes guest artists and student work, and the Willard Wankelman Gallery provides space for BFA student exhibitions. Exhibitions in the galleries are on a rotating basis of 12-14 per year, so check the website for the most up-to-date exhibit information.

Operating Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 11:00am-4:00pm; Thursday, 6:00pm-9:00pm; Sunday, 1:00pm-4:00pm

Notes: Hours may change during summer exhibitions. Check the website for the most up-to-date hours.

Website: https://www.bgsu.edu/arts-and-sciences/school-of-art/galleries.html

Phone: 419-372-2786

Marblehead Lighthouse State Park

Attention mariners! Marblehead Lighthouse is the oldest lighthouse in continuous operation on the Great Lakes, providing a beacon of light on the Marblehead Peninsula since 1822. Visit the Lighthouse Museum and learn about the history of the lighthouse and its keepers, including two women, and the evolution of the light source from whale oil to LED bulbs.

Operating Hours: Park grounds are open year-round; Museum Buildings open daily, 12:00pm-4:00pm from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day

Notes: There is a cost to climb the lighthouse ($3 per person 6 and older, cash only); lighthouse tours may be canceled due to weather

Website: http://parks.ohiodnr.gov/marbleheadlighthouse

Phone: 419-734-4424

Maumee Bay State Park

Maumee Bay State Park is a tribute to Lake Erie, one of the largest bodies of freshwater in the world. Recreational activities including boating, fishing, nature walks, and wildlife viewing abound. The wetlands of Maumee Bay are teeming with wildlife and over 300 species of birds have been recorded there, including a number of nesting pairs of bald eagles. The Trautman Nature Center has interactive displays and is staffed by naturalists who can answer questions and provide history about the park. The Park also hosts a variety of community events – check the website for an updated calendar.

Operating Hours: Daily, 6:00am-11:00pm

Notes: Some fees may be associated with certain activities – check the website for pass and fee requirements

Website: http://parks.ohiodnr.gov/maumeebay

Phone: 419-836-7758

Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge

A visit to the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge exposes visitors to the flora and fauna native to northwest Ohio and the shore of Lake Eris. The roughly 6,500 acres of wetland, grassland, and wooded habitat includes portions of the Great Black Swamp and the ecosystem that lives there. The Visitor’s Center tells the history of the refuge and the surrounding lands. 10 miles of hiking trails meander through a variety of habitats. The refuge offers a variety of programs and events that are free to the public – check the website for more information and to plan your visit.  

Operating Hours: Trails are open daily from dawn to dusk; Visitor’s Center is open daily from 9:00am-4:00pm

Notes: Portions of the refuge may be closed due to weather or natural conditions – check the website before you visit; the refuge wildlife drive is not open every day – check the calendar of events on the website to see if the drive is scheduled to be open the day you plan to visit

Website: https://www.fws.gov/refuge/ottawa/   

Phone: 419-898-0014

Toledo Museum of Art

The Toledo Museum of Art prides itself on its art education for the public. In its 100+ year history, TMA has worked to educate people on how to integrate art into their lives. In addition to their Galleries, TMA offers programming and events to the community. From ancient Egyptian art and artifacts to public glass blowing demonstrations, the Toledo Museum of Art will engage at lovers of all ages.

Operating Hours: Tuesday-Wednesday, 10:00am-4:00pm; Thursday-Friday, 10:00am-9:00pm; Saturday, 10:00am-5:00pm; Sunday, 12:00pm-5:00pm

Notes: General admission to the Museum is free, but some exhibits or events may require purchased tickets

Website: toledomuseum.org

Phone: 419-255-8000

student working in classroomThere are many paths students may take as they leave high school. One option is to take the ACT WorkKeys tests and earn a National Career Readiness Certificate. The WorkKeys CRC can be a stepping stone towards enriching careers for new graduates. The certificate is earned by successful completion of the three ACT WorkKeys assessments: Applied Math, Graphic Literacy, and Workplace Documents.

Students can also choose to take the Applied Technology, Business Writing, Workplace Observation, Fit, and Talent exams offered under the ACT WorkKeys umbrella. These tests allow students to demonstrate real-life skills and prove their ability to enter the workforce. While the WorkKeys is a gauge for practical skills, it’s important that students take preparation seriously.  

Prepare Properly

If your high schooler is planning to take any of the ACT WorkKeys exams, make sure they are prepared. The worst mistake many students make is being unsure of a test’s mechanics and underestimating the complexity of the subject.  

Practice Tests

One of the best ways to understand the ACT WorkKeys exams is to take practice tests. These practice tests not only help your teen understand the way the test is structured, but they also help increase students’ confidence. Students who undertake practice tests are much better prepared for the real tests.

Utilize Online Study Materials

The other mistake many teens make is to assume they are ready for these skill tests without proper test prep. While many of the skills being tested are considered common knowledge, some are more complex. Additionally, being well-prepared is the best way to ensure success.

Many parents find that online test prep websites which use the WorkKeys curriculum are valuable assets. Students are led through a set of problems and activities specialized for the ACT WorkKeys tests. Instead of aimless studying, teens are led through a step-by-step guide towards success on their chosen exams.

Entering the Workforce with ACT WorkKeys

Your student’s WorkKeys assessments can help direct them towards specific careers. The job profiles can help students understand their scores and their potential career aptitude. This important function of the exams is essential to helping students plan for their futures.

Once your teens are ready to start applying for jobs, the ACT WorkKeys can bolster their resumes. High test performance allows teens to show off their skills and abilities to potential employers. Since new graduates may not have past employment to show, the WorkKeys assessments can be vital to demonstrate their potential.

Regardless of whether your teen is planning on taking the SAT, enrolling in a university, or entering the workforce after high school, the ACT WorkKeys can prove a valuable investment. Teenagers are given a solid foundation by which to understand the business world. Subsequently, these building blocks can be used to differentiate your graduate from other job applicants.

In a world where new graduates must compete for a finite number of jobs, breaking apart from the pack is essential. Your teen can use the ACT WorkKeys assessments to diversify their skills and prove themselves more capable of transitioning to life after high school.

Texas schools assess student achievement starting in third grade with the STAAR program. The program wasDrawing at lesson implemented in 2012 to help assess student understanding. Early achievement can be a good indicator of later success. For that reason, helping your student improve their STAAR scores can put them on the road to college enrollment.

The test assesses reading and mathematics for students in grades three through eight. For students grades four and seven, the 
STAAR tests writing. Science is implemented for students in grades five and eight. Eighth-graders take a social studies exam. There are also end-of-course tests for English I, English II, Algebra I, Biology, and U.S. history.

Improve STAAR Scores

There are a lot of ways you can help your student master the STAAR assessments, get more out of school, and prepare for higher education. Making your child’s education a priority can be the difference between not being accepted into college versus the Ivy League.

Teach Good Study Habits

Many students are unaware of how to properly study and concentrate. Starting at a young age can help your child understand the importance of self-discipline and priorities. Many young students find study calendars with rewards helpful. As they grow and become accustomed to self-scheduling and prioritization, study becomes easier.

  • Make studying a daily routine.
  • Create a cohesive study zone.
  • Learn how to make notes.
  • Employ sensory learning techniques.

Take Advantage of Online Learning Centers

Enrolling your students in online test prep courses can be an important way to develop their skills and improve STAAR scores. The valuable insight provided by courses developed with standards in mind can be the difference between success and failure for some children. Finding the right course will enable your student to prosper and learn unimpeded.

Engage in Outside Learning

Giving your child fun experiences which allow for experiential learning can help them explore the world around them. That exploration can help your student be more curious and attentive in future courses. Consider the benefits of summer courses, nature groups, Minecraft classes and other creative experiences.

While children need structure, they also thrive on change. The expansion which new experiences give your child’s mind is hard to measure. However, it is known that children learn better when they have fun, touch, feel, see and hear the world around them.

Taking these few simple steps can help your children succeed on the STAAR exams and future courses. Remember that solid foundations help build constant behaviors. Give your children an example of good study habits to follow so they may study and succeed in school. Make learning fun to encourage exploration. Lastly, take advantage of online courses to help develop your child’s skills and understanding.