Editor’s Note: During this period of social distancing, Student Group Tour magazine will continue to provide ideas for planning educational travel. Many attractions and destinations are closed at this time; please contact them directly for updated information. 

Students find the largest combined collection of U.S. and Russian spacecraft — and engaging programs — at Cosmosphere International Science Education Center & Space Museum, located in Hutchinson, Kansas.  

Cosmosphere began in 1962 when Patty Carey — with the help of the community — created a public planetarium to help share the wonders of astronomy. These wonders are available for students to experience with a number of hands-on learning opportunities.

“Subject matter includes space history, astronaut training, simulated space missions, flight, rocketry, robotics and much more,” said Carla Stanfield, public relations coordinator at Cosmosphere. “Whether it’s an overnight stay or just a few hours visit, a school experience can be customized to meet your needs and budget.”

Every single educational program immerses students in aerospace learning environments that meet Next Generation Science Standards.

Cosmosphere mission control
Mission control center, Cosmosphere
Credit: Cosmosphere: Hutchinson, KS

With the Rocket Blast Extreme program, students build and launch model rockets with engines. This is supplemented with a guided tour of the Hall of Space Museum where students will see crafts that have flown into space.

Different astronomy-focused classes are available for different age groups in the Justice Planetarium. View Cosmosphere’s Robots movie in the Carey Digital Dome Theater, then use coding to program robots and complete numerous tasks.

“We hope that students get an understanding and respect of the past, inspiration for their future and insight into potential career-paths,” Stanfield said.

Make sure to make time to tour the Hall of Space Museum. With multiple galleries, a visit to Cosmosphere is just as much of a history lesson as it is a STEM one. Housing hundreds of artifacts the galleries include the German, Cold War, Mollett Early Spaceflight, Apollo and The Astronaut Experience galleries.

Cosmosphere can accommodate groups as large as 100, with enough time given for planning. For specific questions about educational experiences or to schedule a visit, contact school programs manager JoAnna Strecker at joannas@cosmo.org.

For more information on Cosmosphere International Science Education Center & Space Museum call 620-665-9319 or go to cosmo.org.