Looking for unique field trip destinations and outreach programs for you students or scouts?

Come check out the National Museum of Industrial History in Bethlehem, PA!

The mission of the National Museum of Industrial History, in affiliation with the Smithsonian Institution, is to forge a connection between America’s industrial past and the innovations of today by educating the public and inspiring the visionaries of tomorrow. We strive to meet our mission statement by creating exhibitions and educational programing that tell the stories of the people, machines and ideas that are part of America’s industrial heritage.  Located on the Historic Bethlehem Steel site, NMIH houses artifacts from the Smithsonian’s American History Industrial Machinery collection, the Bethlehem Steel Plant, the Lehigh Valley’s Silk Mills, and Pennsylvania’s Propane Industry.  Interactive exhibits encourage learners of all ages to see how much horsepower they can produce, challenges them to lift as much pig iron as a Bethlehem Steel worker, invites them to learn how to use a loom to create intricate patterns, and introduces them to all the ways propane impacts their modern lives.

The National Museum of Industrial History offers the following educational programing:

School Field Trips
School field trips are available for grades K-12. Students will participate in an informative and interactive guided tour of the Museum with experienced docents. We offer pre and post lessons that meet curriculum standards while providing educators the flexibility to adapt the content to fit their subject and student needs. For more info on booking a tour, please contact Kitsa Behringer at   Your school may qualify for free or reduced costs for school field trips. Find out more here.

Hands on Learning Stations
In the Centennial Gallery, see and touch a sample piece from each of our woodworking machines, files like those from the Nicholson File Company, and discover the difference between hand-made and mass produced nails.  Learn how mechanization revolutionized industries making products more affordable for the consumer.

In the Iron and Steel Gallery, visitors have the opportunity to handle the local natural resources that are the foundation of Pennsylvania’s industrial heritage.  Follow these raw materials as they were historically combined to make wrought and cast iron products and then discover how the local iron industry became the nationally recognized Bethlehem Steel Corporation.

In the Silk Gallery, we invite visitors to see the life cycle of the silk worm, touch silk worm cocoons, and feel silk in various stages of its production.  Play a matching game between natural dyes, their plant source, and colorful silk threads.  Learn about the invention of the power loom and try your hand at weaving a pattern.

In the Propane Gallery, discover how propane is distilled, stored, and shipped while helping perform an experiment illustration Walter Snelling’s original experiment which identified propane as the volatile gas in liquid gasoline.

In partnership with the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts of America, NMIH offers Badge Day Programs.  

Girl Scouts Badge Days

  • Playing at the Past
    • $20/scout
    • Includes badge
    • Includes admission to the museum
  • Inventor
    • $15/scout
    • Includes badge
    • Includes admission to the museum

Boy Scouts/Cub Scout Badge Days

  • Boy Scout and Cub Scout troops are invited to complete requirements for the following:
    • Engineering Merit Badge
    • Geology Merit Badge
    • Inventing Merit Badge
    • Textile Merit Badge
    • Mining in Society Merit Badge
    • Chemistry Merit Badge
    • American Labor Merit Badge
    • Local Knowledge Activity Badge
    • Scientist Activity Badge

Add-on Experiences
Enhance your students’ visit to the National Museum of Industrial History with one of our add-on options. These educational programs offer your students, scouts, and youth the opportunity extend their experience in the galleries by engaging with the content in a deeper way and practice skills such as observation, evaluation, problem solving, and making connections. 

What is a Factory?
Grades: K-4
Group Limit: 20
Duration: 45 minutes
Cost: $60
Students can connect with a different place and time through a discussion of what a factory is and what working conditions were like during the late 19th century.   We consider what a factory might have sounded like as we create a soundscape and we recreate the setting as we play tableau.

Machines at Work
Grades:  2-12
Group Limit: 20
Duration: 1 hour
Cost: $100
The 19th century was a time of profound change.  Students explore societal and industrial change through the concepts of cooperation, conflict and specialization.  Working together, students become a machine in a factory.  What happens when we remove one part of that machine?  What happens when we all work in unison?  We also discuss common conflicts of the industrial age with the help of costumes and role playing.

For older students, we offer a chance to examine the evolution of machine design with model engines.  How does the orientation of pistons change the functional use of the engine?  Where were these machines originally used and where do we see these machines used today?

Time Management
Grades:  2-8
Group Limit: 20
Duration: 45 minutes
Cost: $75
The study of time management impacts industry as well as our daily lives.  How can we be more efficient and productive?  Using several fun games, students are challenged to find the easiest way to be the most productive.

Centennial Sampler
Grades:  5-12
Group Limit: 20
Duration: 1-2 hours
Cost: $50-$150
Step back in time to1876 and attend America’s Centennial Exposition held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.   Play popular children’s games, sample some treats for sale at the Centennial, and take an in depth look at a few of the inventions and novelties exhibited. ($50)

Extend your experience by trying your hand at typical professions: coal miner, printer, silk mill laborer, or foundry worker.  Costumes and real artifacts encourage students to adopt a persona and focus on work which foreign compared to the modern conveniences of today. ($100)

Were there women exhibitors at the Centennial Exposition?  Yes!  Often overlooked are the female inventors, engineers, mechanics, printers, and medical students who exhibited in the Women’s Pavilion.  Introduce your students to these incredibly talented and hardworking women. ($150)  

Grab-bag inventing
Grades:  K-12
Group Limit: 20
Duration: 1 hour
Cost: $100
Grab Bag Inventing is an activity that allows participants to invent clever solutions while testing their creative abilities.   Participants work together in small groups to design inventions with everyday items and common materials. 

Natural dyeing
Grades:  5-12
Group Limit: 20
Duration: 1 ½ hours
Cost: $150
Learning through doing.  Before the accidental discovery of alanine (synthetic) dyes, people dyed their textiles using natural materials.  Give your students the opportunity to try dying raw silk with natural dyes.  This add-on program takes at least 45 minutes and it is recommended that your tour starts with this add-on option so that students can leave with a finished product.

*Due to the nature of dyeing, groups interested in taking part in this educational add-on will begin and end in the Education Center.  Students will tour the museum while yarn is in the dye bath.

Engineering Challenges
Grades:  2-12
Group Limit: 20
Duration: 1-2 hours
Cost: $75- $150
Challenge your students to take part in a friendly engineering competition!  Work in teams to design and build the longest marble run, the perfect catapult, or a true structural masterpiece. ($150)

      • Marble run team challenge
      • Angry Peeps: Catapult Challenge
      • Bridges and skyscrapers

Or, perhaps, give your students an opportunity to express their whimsical engineering abilities.  Working independently, students will be introduced to patent drawings via Rube Goldberg before designing their own outlandish invention.  Paper engineering is an option for students who enjoy a detail oriented challenge. ($75)

      • Patent Drawings Inspired by Rube Goldberg
      • Paper engineering

The Basics of Weaving
Grades:  5-8

Group Limit: 20
Duration: 1 hour
Cost: $125
Learn the basics of weaving on a miniature carboard loom.  Once students have learned weaving terminology and mastered a basket weave, we experiment with more complicated weaving patterns.

Scavenger Hunt
Grades: 2-12

Group Limit: 50
Duration: 45 minutes
Cost: $50
Give your students additional time to explore the museum with our Kids’ Activity Guide (grades 2-5) and Scavenger Hunt (grades 6-12).  This option is great for large groups.  Pair up or work independently to discover more about the artifacts or at the museum, or to gain a fuller understanding of the content by using exhibit interactive.

Inspired by the history of local industry?  Sign up for a make and take class at the Northampton Community College FAB LAB!

Summer Camp
The National Museum of Industrial History (NMIH) is pleased to offer new educational programing for the summer of 2018.  Participants in the NMIH Rosie Revere’s Engineering Camp will spend a fun-filled week learning how engineers analyze common problems, experiment to discover solutions, and engineer their inventions.  If you’re not afraid to face challenges, can come back to the design table after your first “brilliant flop”, and can try again to come up with the perfect invention, then this is the camp for you!

Registration is available beginning May 1, 2018.

NMIH Tour Pre-Visit Information for Teachers
Scheduling a Tour

Pre-lesson Plan
Post-lesson Plan