For kids and teachers lucky enough to live near a national park or monument, school field trips might be filled with visits that dive into the science or history of their local surroundings.  But what if you don't live close to a national treasure?  What if your class is studying about the civil war but your classroom is no where near a battlefield or monument?  Or what if you want to study up on the Statue of Liberty before your class takes that big end-of-year trip to New York?

The National Park Service has always offered resources to help teachers share info about their specific sites in the classroom.  But this year, they have beefed up these resources with their new 'Back to School in America' program that utilizes the park service's spectacular natural landscapes to teach science and the authentic places where history happened to bring that history to life in the classroom.

“Bringing America’s national parks into classrooms will help students build a lifelong connection with nature, history and the broad and diverse culture of our Nation,” said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. “This new web tool is a perfect example of how technology can be used to bring us closer to our treasured landscapes and the stories and places that define the American people. I hope students and teachers across the country will use these new resources to learn about the parks and to inspire a future visit to our public lands, which belong to all Americans.”

The website is searchable by location, keyword, and more than 125 subjects, ranging from archeology to biology to Constitutional law.  The site includes lesson plans for each park unit, information about borrowing "traveling trunks" that teachers can use in their classroom, as well as distance learning opportunities where students can live chat with rangers while they learn.

So, for example, an English class can study literature with a lesson plan from Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site, a history teacher can borrow a traveling trunk from Jefferson Expansion National Memorial to make the story of westward expansion come alive, science students can chat live with a ranger from Grand Canyon National Park, and future explorers can climb Mount McKinley in Denali National Park.

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