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2 8 GROUP TRAVEL LE ADER T H E privately owned arts facility in the United States. "It's a good place to go rather than a shopping mall," said Williams. "It's a great way to introduce students to art. It's a very eclectic, fun place. They offer tours, or you can just browse and shop." The site offers not only visual arts, but also restaurants, chocolate, coffee, gourmet popsicles and free concerts. E A R LY W O R K S FA M I LY O F M U S E U M S Students can dip candles, card cotton and stoke the fires in the blacksmith shop at the Alabama Constitution Village. Part of the EarlyWorks Family of Museums, this living- history museum transports guests back to the early days of Alabama's statehood, which became official on the museum's grounds in 1819. "You are treated to a glimpse of what urban life was like in Huntsville in 1900s," said Williams. "They talk about how Alabama became a state. Our statehood bicentennial is in 2019, but we're starting to celebrate this year because it's the anniversary of when Alabama became a terri- tory. So it will really be a two-and-a-half-year celebration starting this August." The open-air museum uses costumed interpret- ers to re-enact life in 1819 inside eight buildings, including a law office, a post office and a blacksmith shop. During the Village Living History program, students can not only ask interpreters questions as they watch them work, but also participate in various activities during the two-hour course. The nearby Historic Huntsville Depot, also part of the EarlyWorks Family of Museums, focuses on the Civil War history of Huntsville. Built in 1860, the depot remains one of the nation's oldest railroad structures. Groups can climb aboard locomotives and expe- rience the Civil War through interactive exhibits and guided programs. Tours reveal intriguing graf- fiti left in the building by Confederate soldiers held there as prisoners during the war. H U D S O N A L P H A I N S T I T U T E F O R B I O T E C H N O L O GY Diagnosing genetic abnormalities sounds like challenging work for even the brightest minds. But when the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology combines this serious sci - ence with scavenger hunts and detective kits, the important research becomes a fun way to spend an afternoon. The nonprofit genome research institute strives to present the material in an engaging way for a specific goal. "One of their main reasons for being in exis- tence is youth outreach," said Williams. "They are trying to cultivate the next generation of students who might be able to cure cancer." Programs at HudsonAlpha not only offer enter- taining science-based activities, but also provide a glimpse into tangible genetic research careers. The site has a research component as well as a business incubator. Once the research labs discover some- thing new, the facility's business operation takes over to market the product to the masses. Groups can learn the intricacies of this pro- cess while enjoying the site's hands-on, lab-based field trips. Students can spend an hour or a day learning to operate high-tech biotechnology tools to solve the given genetic problem. H U T V I - A O O . C V B WWW.HUNTSVILLE.ORG A LAB EXPERIENCE AT HUDSONALPHA INSTITUTE FOR BIOTECHNOLOGY NASA Visitor Center www.rocketcenter.com See the world's largest collection of space artifacts and explore the fascinating future of space travel! Looking to stay a bit longer? Sign up for an inspiring experience at Space Camp! Two- to six-day Camps are available for all ages: children, families, adults and corporate groups. ATTRACTION • • ALABAMA ALABAMA • ATTRACTION • # 1 Huntsville, Alabama • (800) 637-7223