Chattanooga offers educational experiences for kids

Now's the time to start thinking about summer plans. Sure, thoughts of booking vacations and signing up for camps might make you a bit queasy. So, this year, how about creating a trip that means something? Even though the kids will be putting away the books, it doesn't mean that the learning needs to end. Learning outside of the classroom teaches kids that it is possible to gain knowledge after the last bell has rung for the season.

The Southeast is home to some of the most educational destinations in the country. Chattanooga, Tenn., is one of them. More than just a fish tankWhen Chattanooga revitalized its downtown core, no one would have guessed the city would become an education destination for children. It's tough to think of a better spot for kids to learn than the Tennessee Aquarium. The Tennessee Aquarium is more than just a fish tank. It's a place where young ones can learn about the circle of life through a range of exhibits. Whether it's the Butterfly Garden or exhibits featuring a red-bellied piranha, the Tennessee Aquarium is chock full of information that's presented in a user-friendly, entertaining format. Kids can also learn about conservation and research programs here, such as the initiative to save the seahorses. As you view their comprehensive display of seahorses, the aquarium suggests ways to help preserve these creatures. Refraining from dried seahorse purchases and taking care of the local waters are just some of the things that grownups and children alike can do to keep the seahorses thriving. And of course, kids will love to top off the aquarium trip with a visit to its critically acclaimed IMAX 3-D theater.

A place for kids to discover

It's a snap to walk from one point to another in Chattanooga, so you'll have no trouble getting from the aquarium to the Creative Discovery Museum. The museum has plenty of play equipment, but children can also get a hands-on education there. The Riverplay exhibit shows how locks and dams work, how to pilot a river boat and how a river current is created. Kids are always fascinated with the Barsamian Sculpture known as "Lesson in the Park." The sculpture, created by Gregory Barsamian of Brooklyn, N.Y., features a three-dimensional bird coming out of a two-dimensional photograph. The bird turns into a pair of hands that release light and float away. Learning about diversity has always been important for kids.

Ruby Falls: An outdoor learning center

Ruby Falls is a Chattanooga institution. Long before there was talk about bringing revitalization efforts to the city, Ruby Falls was attracting visitors from across the Southeast. Known as America's highest and most visited underground waterfall, Ruby Falls makes you feel like you're worlds away from home. Located just south of Chattanooga on Lookout Mountain, Ruby Falls provides kids with a geology and history lesson. An elevator ride to the property's cavern is a ticket to a one-of-a-kind education. As they tour the upper and lower caves, kids learn about stalagmites, stalactites, flowstones and drape formations. Both caves are located in the limestone layer of the mountain.When it comes to historical facts, kids will learn that Lookout Mountain was discovered some 200 million years ago. It is believed the mountain was formed after a powerful earthquake lifted the mountain up from the seabed. More recent history is also on display here. Andrew Jackson, our nation's seventh president, left his signature in the cave.

An arts education on the river

Aside from the aquarium, the children's museum and Ruby Falls, Chattanooga provides an arts education at the Hunter Museum of Art, where children's Saturday morning classes run. Drawing and Printmaking for Beginners is a great way to introduce children to basic drawing skills.If you want to make the most of your kids' time off from school, look no further than Chattanooga. You can create your own educational getaway.

More info
· Tennessee
· Creative Discovery
· Ruby

Fun Facts
· The city of Chattanooga was originally called Ross's Landing. It was an early port on the Tennessee River.
· An average of one million visitors each year tour the Tennessee Aquarium to see more than 9,000 animals in natural habitats.
· The Tennessee Aquarium's IMAX 3-D Theater is six stories high with six-channel IMAX sound.
· The Creative Discovery Museum's attendance is 34 percent higher than children's museums found in comparably sized cities.
· Ruby Falls was discovered in 1923 by cave explorer Leo Lambert.
· After discovering the 145-foot waterfall inside the Ruby Falls cave, Leo Lambert escorted his wife, Ruby, down to the falls and named them in her honor.Source: The Tennessee Aquarium, the Creative Discovery Museum and Ruby Falls


Anonymous said…
No matter what the guides at Ruby Falls may say, no one seriously believes Lookout Mountain was formed by an earthquake. Maybe they are thinking of Reelfoot Lake.
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