For over one hundred years, Vulcan has embodied the story of Birmingham. At Vulcan Park and Museum, we bring this story to life for students through tours, exhibits, and live theatre and dance performances. Add-ons, classroom resources, enrichment activities and outreach programs enhance the experience. Our educational programs excite students through inquiry based learning and serve students of all ages and learning styles. At the end of each tour, students ascend Vulcan’s Observation Tower for an unforgettable view of the region.
Guided Tours allow students to explore the city of Birmingham and beyond through grade-appropriate instruction and indoor and outdoor exhibits. Content is across the curriculum, with an emphasis on social studies. Guided Tour content is aligned with the Alabama Course of Study. Detailed grids of ACOS outcomes by grade are available below.
Guided Tours now begin as early as 9 am!
Cost: $5 per student; $5 per chaperone. Teachers admitted free. Includes entrance to park grounds, Vulcan Center Museum, Observation Tower and Gift Shop. Offered year-round.
- [Grades K5-2] Family Life in Early Birmingham
Explore how families lived in various times in Birmingham’s history. Students learn how children played and went to school in company towns, what their parents did for work, how families of all backgrounds celebrated the heritage they brought with them from other parts of the world and how children changed Birmingham forever.
- [Grades 3-5] Milestones of Local History
Imagine how people in Birmingham responded to and transformed their city. Students explore how individuals and groups lived through pivotal events and times in Alabama and American history, which include Westward Expansion, Reconstruction, Industrialization, the Great Depression and the Civil Rights era.
- [Grades 6-8] Coming to the Magic City
Challenge your students to consider the experiences of Birmingham’s social and cultural groups and how these groups have interacted with one another throughout the city’s history. Students explore such factors as immigration, rural migration and social challenges to equality that Birmingham has faced.
- [Grades 9-12] Impacting Birmingham and the World
Examine the challenges Birmingham has faced and consider how students can positively impact their world. Students look at the city’s founding and early growth; Birmingham during the Great Depression and World War II; postwar Birmingham and the Civil Rights era; the city’s transition from an industrial economy; and Birmingham as the hub of an expansive metropolitan area.
- Make it a Museum Day
To help streamline paperwork and travel costs, Vulcan Park and Museum recommends a piggy-back tour with Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark or the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, among other cultural institutions. Take a look at some suggested itineraries that will help maximize the educational value of your field trip!
- Self-Guided Tours
Explore Birmingham history through a one-hour field trip to Vulcan Park and Museum using our Teachers’ Guide. Self-Guided tours leave the planning to the teacher and require the ongoing guidance of teachers and chaperones to ensure that students move through the museum as a group; however, our experienced education staff is happy to assist you.
Cost: $4 per student; $5 per chaperone. Teachers admitted free. Includes entrance to park grounds, Vulcan Center Museum and Vulcan’s Observation Tower. Offered year-round.
Anything is Possible Grades [3-12]
See our museum exhibits come to life through a live theatrical performance inside the galleries of Vulcan Center Museum. Professional actors depict the people who transformed Birmingham from a sleepy cornfield into a dynamic industrial city. Students encounter John Milner, James MacKnight, Giuseppe Moretti and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Over 140 years of Birmingham history are covered in this work written by playwright Lee Shackleford and commissioned by Vulcan Park and Museum.
Cost: $7 per student and chaperone with a minimum of 20 participants. Teachers admitted free. Performance lasts approximately 30 minutes. Times and dates are limited, for more information please email us at fieldtrips@visitvulcan.
Field Trip Add-ons
- Chick-Fil-A Lunches
Vulcan Park and Museum has partnered with Chick-fil-A Five Points South to offer an affordable, healthy and convenient lunch option for our school groups. For more information, please call 205.930.8000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org@gmail.com.
- Vulcan Face to Face
Vulcan Face to Face is a fun way to prepare students for their upcoming visit to Vulcan Park and Museum. Performed by Vulcan’s plush mascot “V” with support from a Vulcan Park and Museum education staff member, this interactive one hour performance provides lessons on history, science and art, and excites students about future exploration of Vulcan. Cost and availability vary.
- Vulcan's Traveling Trunk
Prepare your students for their visit to Vulcan Park and Museum with Vulcan’s Traveling Trunk, a collection of hands-on objects from our educational collection. This collection of books, minerals, worksheets and materials is suited to elementary and middle school exploration and connects to Alabama Course of Study outcomes. Through Vulcan’s Traveling Trunk, students will study history from the perspective of those who lived it.
Thanks to the generosity of our funding partners, we can sometimes waive or reduce field trip costs for classrooms, primarily from under-served school districts. Funding may also be available for our outreach programs. Opportunities for grant-supported field trips and outreach programs are limited. Please contact Educational Program Coordinator at email@example.com to determine if your school is eligible.
Additionally, corporate donors and other funding agencies may have resources that can be used for educational field trips at Vulcan Park and Museum. Such sources require the school or teacher to apply. To apply for grant assisted field trips, please fill out the form below.
Field Trip Program FAQs
- What grades should come to Vulcan Park and Museum?
Individual programs are targeted to specific grade levels. Pay close attention to the recommended grade levels for each program. Those grade level recommendations result from expert evaluation of various programs.
- Who evaluates Vulcan Park and Museum’s educational programs?
Evaluators come through our Education Advisory Committee, which is made up of experts in the field of child development, social studies, fine arts, and other disciplines. Additionally, teachers are asked to evaluate their field trip experience. Vulcan Park and Museum staff regularly review teacher and Education Advisory Committee evaluations and fine tune educational programs accordingly.
- How do students learn at Vulcan Park and Museum?
Students learn by exploring their natural curiosities about where they live and what they see in the exhibits. At Vulcan Park and Museum, they are invited to push buttons, turn knobs, look through stereoscopes, and make other choices that reflect their natural interests and questions about their environment. On a Guided Tour, students are encouraged to ask their docent questions. In the case of Anything is Possible and Self-Guided Tours, students are encouraged to learn socially through discussion with teachers and one another.
- What is the educational value of a Vulcan Park and Museum tour?
One of the best things about Vulcan Park and Museum is that it both conveys facts and excites interest in learning about our region’s history; teachers can take advantage of this excitement back in the classroom. At Vulcan Park and Museum, students can:
- Experience life in a company town
- Imagine working in Lone Pine Mine
- See Vulcan at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair
- Meet a host of famous and everyday people who made the dream of a city based on iron and steel a reality
- Take in view from atop Red Mountain of Birmingham and aerial views of the region from Vulcan Tower
- What is the educational value of Linn-Henley Gallery?
Linn-Henley Gallery expands upon the Birmingham story through periodically changing exhibits. Its exhibits amplify content found elsewhere at Vulcan Park and Museum.
- Will students be able to go to the top of the tower?
Almost always. Weather permitting, students ascend Vulcan Tower for an unforgettable view of the region – usually at the end of their visit. This is one of the most unforgettable features of a school field trip. On rare occasions and as a safety precaution, Vulcan Park and Museum closes the tower because of inclement weather.
- How can I integrate a VPM tour with classroom goals?
Educational content at Vulcan Park and Museum can be adapted to meet classroom goals in a variety of subjects. While the most direct connections are with Alabama and United States history, students who come to Vulcan Park and Museum also explore geology, metallurgy, mythology, map reading, and fine arts. Vulcan Park and Museum encourages students to think critically and comprehensively about our great symbol and the region it represents.
- What can I do to prepare my students to be receptive to learning at VPM?
Please take time before arriving at Vulcan Park and Museum to prepare your students for their visit. Studies show that students learn better in museums if they are prepared to be receptive to the content through materials such as our Teachers’ Guide. Studies also suggest that if teachers take time to answer seemingly small questions before the visit – about the gift shop and restrooms, for example – students are more attuned to learning. Vulcan Park and Museum has several suggestions in the Classroom Resources section of the website and in the Teachers’ Guide. Each Guided Tour has suggested readings and online resources.
- Will students be able to visit the gift shop?
Visiting the gift shop is part of the Vulcan experience, and is included as part of all tours. We ask teachers and chaperones to limit the number of students in the gift shop to ten at any one time. We also ask teachers to inform their students that we do have a gift shop in advance so that students can be prepared to purchase a souvenir if they wish.
- Will students be able to visit the restroom?
It is ideal that students use the restroom prior to loading the bus and coming to Vulcan Park and Museum. In case of emergencies or of school buses traveling longer distances, Vulcan Park and Museum makes restrooms on the main level of Vulcan Center available to students. As teachers know, taking an entire class to the restroom can take up to 20 minutes; please budget restroom visits into your trip to Vulcan Park and Museum to maximize the educational value of your visit.
- Can I have a picnic lunch at VPM?
Absolutely! There are picnic tables on the east side of the park. Vulcan Park and Museum features one of the city’s most beautiful green spaces and many school groups opt to spread out on the lawn rather than use the picnic tables. Picnic table use is free, but you are encouraged to schedule their use in advance. Contact our Educational Program Coordinator at 205.933.1409 x112 to add a picnic to your visit.
- How do I integrate the Teachers' Guide into a visit?
Teachers opting for the Self-Guided Tour should use the exhibit descriptions portion of the Teachers’ Guide to plan what to say. Teachers option for the Guided Tour should still feel free to use the exhibit descriptions to offer comments that help tie docent content to classroom goals
Implement the classroom activities portion of the Teachers’ Guide both before and after the actual visit. Studies show that learning through museums is optimal when students prepare through classroom activities and continue to explore museum content after the visit. Evidence supports that museum learning resonates for weeks, maybe months, after the visit.