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Spend Winter Break at the National Air and Space Museum
Meredith Wilson’s classic holiday song says, “Mom and Dad can hardly wait for school to start again.” But that does not have to be the case. Visitors can make the most of winter break at the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va. With hands-on activities and Star Wars: The Force Awakens playing on the largest IMAX screen in northern Virginia, the museum has something to offer everyone this winter.
The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is open every day except Dec. 25 from 10 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Extended hours until 6:30 p.m. will be in effect Dec. 26 through Dec. 30.
There are a number of activities geared at visitors of all ages this month. On Dec. 12 from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., the museum will host “Day of Code,” an Hour of Code event. Hour of Code is a global initiative to increase interest in computer programming. At “Day of Code,” students at all grade levels can participate in hands-on activities about programming and coding and even program robots. The museum will also run three one-hour coding tutorials, aimed at kids 10 and older, themed around space travel and the movies Star Wars and Frozen.
The Udvar-Hazy Center will host a variety of other interactive activities over winter break. Visitors can play “Smithsonian TechQuest: Astronaut Academy,” a free alternate reality game, most Saturdays from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The museum will also be running special hands-on activities to help kids better understand the science behind the aircraft and spacecraft on display. In “Paper Airplane Design,” available Dec. 21 and 29 at 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., visitors examine how weight impacts the stability of airplanes while building the perfect paper airplane, and in “Rockets,” available Dec. 22 and 30 at 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., visitors use Newton’s Laws to develop and test rockets for stability and accuracy.
The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center’s Airbus IMAX Theater will be playing Star Wars: The Force Awakens in IMAX 3D with Laser beginning Dec. 17, with show times available daily starting at 1:50 p.m. With a laser projection system and a screen six stories high, the Airbus Theater is a stunning way to view the film, which was partially filmed using IMAX cameras. Tickets are likely to sell out, so it is recommended to purchase tickets online in advance at si.edu/imax.
The museum can be reached by car and by taking Fairfax Connector Route 983. Getting to the Udvar-Hazy Center is now easier than ever for Fairfax County students thanks to the Free Student Bus Pass Pilot Program at all Fairfax County Public Schools high schools and middle schools. The program allows students to ride Fairfax Connector busses for free Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Students should contact their school’s administration office to sign up and get a pass.
The National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is located in Chantilly, Va., near Washington Dulles International Airport. The museum building on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., is located at Sixth Street and Independence Avenue S.W. Both facilities are open daily from 10 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25), with extended hours during peak visitation times. Admission is free, but there is a $15 fee for parking before 4 p.m. at the Udvar-Hazy Center.
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