A Virtual Visit to the National September 11 Memorial and Museum


Aerial view of 9/11 memorial











Historical Context | Heroes of 9-11 | Memorializing and Remembrance  | K-12 Lesson PLans At The Memorial Website | Suggested Additional Recommended Resources


Questions raised by the 9/11 attacks and their aftermath are relevant throughout the academic year and stretch across various humanities disciplines, including politics, geography, the arts, history, and religion. EDSITEment has created a Student LaunchPad, “What Makes a Hero?”, to help students approach the events before, during, and after September 11, 2001, through the lens of the humanities in a positive and directed manner. This overview serves as a teacher’s guide to the Student LaunchPad and the 9/11 Memorial website, which acts as the major primary source for student activities. 

Historical Context: What Happened on September 11, 2001?

The 9/11 Interactive Timeline sequences what happened on September 11, using images, audio, and video from the 9/11 Museum permanent collection. Students have the ability to access the EDSITEment LaunchPad worksheet, which isolates key time-stamped moments on the timeline and asks them to write about what they observe there.

ADVISORY: EDSITEment staff has chosen richly contextual, nonviolent content for student interactivity; however, the complete timeline follows the day’s events closely. Teachers and parents are asked to use discretion in guiding student navigation through the images, videos, and audio recordings available. 

Special Teacher’s Resource Section: Exploring 9/11 Webcast Series: What do students remember or know about the events of 9/11? How did the world change as a result of 9/11?

What are some possible explanations for why our world changed in the aftermath of 9/11? The 9/11 Memorial has included webcasts with study guides that are grouped under the following categories: 9/11 and its Aftermath, Middle East History and Security, Memory, and Memorialization, and Building the Memorial and Museum.

Should you choose, you might supplement the EDSITEment-designed Launchpad activities with these resources, which bring up important questions about values, national security, culture, history and politics. Encourage your class to examine the nature of cooperation and conflict in the post-9/11 world by starting with their immediate environment. Ask them to talk or write to siblings, other teachers, and parents about what they remember and what changes these people have noticed in the world after the tragic events of 9/11.

Part One: The Heroes of 9/11

While the attacks that took the lives of so many demonstrate the worst of humankind, the spirit of community, courage, and volunteerism demonstrate our best qualities. Students explore the nature of that commitment in this exercise. In addition, they can further ponder the concept of “heroes” with the help of the following EDSITEment-created resources:

Many individuals and groups from all walks of life selflessly gave their time, strength and even their lives to help others on September 11, and the days, weeks, and years that followed. The LaunchPad guides students in the exploration of resources, including webcasts, about the rescue and recovery efforts. The accompanying worksheet helps them understand, along with the featured EDSITEment lesson plans, who can be a hero, what makes a hero, and who was heroic on 9/11 and in its aftermath.

Part Two: Memorializing and Remembrance

What avenues exist for organizations as well as ordinary Americans to memorialize individuals or groups of individuals? For a more in-depth overview, teachers should consult the 9/11 Memorial guides, Spirit of Volunteerism and Tribute Art and 9/11, which provide detailed timelines and lesson plans for use in the classroom. 

EDSITEment’s Student LaunchPad guides students, with the aid of a worksheet, in an exploration of the different ways people and the nation have paid tribute or memorialized the victims and the many who helped during the attacks and the aftermath of September 11, by following the 9/11 Memorial Web pages: Lady Liberty, Art: A Great Way to Pay Tribute, Flag of Remembrance webcast, and The Names around the Fountains. Students then have the opportunity to use their own creativity as they utilize the Memorializing worksheet to design their own commemorative medal, collage, drawing, shrine, or textile.

Lesson Plans From the 9/11 Memorial Site

The National September 11 Memorial & Museum has partnered with the New York City Department of Education to develop a robust set of 9/11 lessons for K-12 classrooms.

Suggested Additional Recommended Resources

Teaching about 9/11 in 2011: What Our Children Need to Know from The Thomas B. Fordham Institute offers resources on how best to teach about 9/11 to younger students, as well as information concerning the many different approaches to teaching the events of 9/11, its aftermath, and its potential impacts on American youth.