Boeing Learning Center - Learning Lab

Constitution-in-Action Lab

It’s not an ordinary field trip! Classes reserving a session at the Boeing Learning Center’s new Learning Lab can look forward to an experience that will transform the way they look at our Constitution and our history.

The Learning Lab integrates a compelling on-site experience in exploring the U.S. Constitution with pre-visit and post-visit classroom lessons. Students attending the lab will experience an in-depth interaction with primary sources motivated by a mission-driven environment. In the Lab, students take on the roles of archivists and researchers completing a very important assignment: providing the President of the United States with real-life examples of our Constitution in action for a new public information campaign. Using the "Stacks" and the "Reading Room"—replicas of the actual research facilities used by archivists at the National Archives every day—students will find, select and analyze document facsimiles. They will mine these primary sources for historical examples of such political concepts as checks and balances and separation of powers, gaining a greater understanding of the important role the Constitution plays in both our government and our daily lives.

While especially designed for middle school students, the program can be adjusted to meet the needs of a broad range of abilities in grades 5-10. The Constitution-in-Action Learning Lab combines history, civic education, and critical thinking in a hands-on experience with primary sources. In a technology-rich environment, students work in teams to fulfill their mission.

For more information, see the Frequently Asked Questions or contact the National Archives Education team at

To schedule a program, complete the registration form (PDF) and fax it to (202) 357-5925.

Students attending the Constitution-in-Action Lab


Constitution-in-Action Lab:
Pre-visit Preparation & Requirements

We are delighted that you are interested in bringing your students to participate in the Constitution-in-Action Lab at the National Archives.

Before you submit your registration form (PDF), please read the following.

The Lab experience requires that your students come prepared. They need to:

  1. Be familiar with the Preamble of the Constitution

  2. Be divided into six teams and assigned a particular section of the Constitution

    Team 1 = Article 1, sections 1-7
    Team 2 = Article 1, sections 8-10
    Team 3 = Article 2, all sections
    Team 4 = Article 3, all sections
    Team 5 =Article 4, all sections
    Team 6 =Articles 5, 6, and 7

  3. Have read and understood their assigned section of the Constitution, and

  4. Be able to define the following "Big Ideas." (Students will be looking for documents that illustrate these concepts.)

    1. Representative Government- a system of government in which the people elect officials to govern for them. These officials are held accountable to the voters through periodic elections.

    2. Federalism-a form of government in which there is a constitutional division of power between a central government and regional governments.

    3. Checks and Balances-a system of overlapping powers of the separate branches of government that permits each branch to limit, restrain, or inform the actions of the other branches.

    4. Separation of Powers-a basic principle of American government that places different governing duties and powers among three independent and coequal branches: legislative, executive and judicial.

    5. Enumerated powers- the powers of governing that are specifically defined and authorized in the actual wording of the Constitution.

    6. Implied powers- the powers of government that, while not specifically defined and authorized in the Constitution, are not specifically prohibited.

    7. Civic responsibility-actions by the people that demonstrate their interest and participation in the governing of their country.