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Normal Hours of Operation are listed below.
Group tours should be scheduled in advance.
National Cryptologic Museum Tour Information
Ideal for retiree groups, college classes, or those adults looking for something a little different. Museum staff or volunteer docents will lead groups on guided tours of the museum. The tour covers cryptologic history and the role that making and breaking codes has had in American/world history. You'll hear how messages were sent in the Civil War, how the U.S. entered WWI due to a broken coded German message, touch a real working German Enigma from WWII, see the machine that decrypted the Japanese "Dec. 7, 1941" message, learn about the Native American Code Talkers, see some of the earliest supercomputers and secure telephones, and much more. Special emphasis can be placed on any of these areas upon request.
Groups should schedule in advance (301-688-5849) , but walk-ins are welcome if a docent is available.
Tours last approximately 1.5 hours. (Shorter or longer tours can be accommodated upon request).
School Field Trips
Adjacent to the Museum, is the National Vigilance Park highlighting the role and sacrifices of our country's aerial reconnaissance programs. The park is open to the public dawn to dusk. It is not part of the planned field trip programs; however, a walking path to the park can be found at the end of the museum parking lot. Students should only visit the park with adult chaperones.
School Field Trip Programs
Picture Scavenger Hunt: Recommended for ages 9-11 (grades 4-6). Older elementary school students participate in a Scavenger Hunt. Each student receives a questionnaire with pictures of museum exhibits. The students must search the museum for the exhibit and answer the two accompanying questions. Students may work in small groups, but each is given the questionnaire to answer. The hunt is followed by an answer session in the museum classroom. The museum staff will go over the questionnaires and provide additional historical information concerning each exhibit. Staff frequently asks "bonus questions" and reward correct answers with small prizes.
Program Length: approximately 2 hours
Questionnaire: Recommended for ages 12 and older (grades 7-12). Middle school and high school students participate in a Questionnaire Scavenger Hunt. Each student receives a questionnaire concerning the museum exhibits. The students search the museum for answers. Students may work in small groups but each is given the questionnaire to answer. The hunt is followed by an answer session in the museum classroom. The museum staff will go over the questionnaires and provide additional historical information concerning the exhibits. Staff frequently asks additional "bonus questions" and reward correct answers with small prizes.
Guided Tour: Recommended for ages 15 and older (grades 10-college). Young adults receive a guided tour of the museum given by museum staff or volunteer docents. The tour covers cryptologic history and its role in American/world history. Exhibits include: Civil War, WWI, WWII (including the German Enigma, Pacific War and Native American Codetalkers), Cold War, Korean War, Vietnam War, development of computers and American Information Assurance programs. Special emphasis can be placed on any of these areas upon request.
Program Length: 1-2 hours (teacher's discretion)
Home Schools and Small Groups: Designed specifically for home schoolers ages 9-16, but available to other small groups as well, this program has students search the museum looking for specific exhibits. They then answer four questions regarding each artifact, person, or event. In the museum classroom, students, or teams of students, will answer the questions in a game show format by buzzing in. The staff will provide additional historical information during a guided tour of the museum.
Program length: Approximately 3 hours
Several talks and presentations can be provided to groups in addition to a field trip program or tour. Please allow an additional hour to your visit. Programs will be presented in the museum classroom before or after the field trip in the museum.
In conjunction with the Math Education Partnership Program (MEPP), talks on a wide variety of math related topics can be presented. A full list of talks can be found in the MEPP Catalog. Please select two or three choices so that we can best try to meet your request.
Several talks on cryptologic history are also available from the museum Educational Coordinator.
Cub Scouts: The Tiger and Wolf program is an abbreviated tour of the museum to include Civil War signaling and the hands-on German Enigma machine. The cubs then go into the classroom for a game using the codes of the Navajo Codetalkers and use a simple cipher wheel to create a cipher message. (Tiger Requirement #4 "How I Tell It" and Wolf Elective #1a "It's a Secret")
The Bear program includes an abbreviated tour of the museum to include communications during the Civil War, hand-on German Enigma machine, the Native American Codetalkers, computers, fingerprint recognition and reconnaissance aircraft and satellites. (Bear Elective #1e "Space" satellite; additional information related to Electives #3 "Radio," #6 "Aircraft" and #24 "Native American Life")
Program Length (Tiger/Wolf/Bear): 1 hour
The Webelos program includes an abbreviated tour to include communications during the Civil War, hand-on German Enigma machine and the Native American Codetalkers. The Webelos will then go into the museum classroom to make and break their own cipher messages. (Communicator activity pin requirements #4 "Identify types of communication" and #5 "Create a den code")
Program Length: 1.5-2 hours
Boy Scout programs are generally tours focused on areas specified by the leader, or they may select any of the other programs offered.
Girl Scouts: The Junior and Cadette programs were developed to meet the requirements for badges in the "It's Your Planet - Love it!" Journey.
Junior Girl Scouts will earn their "Detective" badge using clues to find different exhibits, test their powers of observation, try different ways to encrypt a message, and identify their own fingerprint patterns and handwriting. The program also includes an abbreviated tour of the museum with some hands-on activities and games interspersed, making earning their badge and learning about cryptology fun.
Cadette Girl Scouts will earn their "Special Agent" badge. This program includes an abbreviated tour of the museum that not only exposes the girls to the fun of ciphers, it emphasizes the role women have played in cryptologic history. While on the tour, the girls will have several hands-on activities and games like testing their powers of observation. Then they'll go into the classroom to write with invisible ink, identify their own fingerprint patterns, play a body language game, and sketch their favorite activity.
Program Length: Approximately 2 hours
(Note the badges must be purchased from the Girl Scout store and are not available at the museum.)
How to Schedule
Field trips can be scheduled by calling 301-688-5849 Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Have the following information ready before you call:
Pre-visit information can also be mailed upon request. Pre-visit packages usually include:
Date Posted: Jan 15, 2009 | Last Modified: Apr 05, 2012 | Last Reviewed: Apr 05, 2012