Silicon Valley – planning the perfect Computer Science school trip

Silicon Valley
March 3, 2016

The Silicon Valley is without doubt the epicentre for much of the world’s technology and IT infrastructure that we use today, acting as home of the digital age much in the same way Birmingham was the ‘workshop of the world’ during the industrial revolution.  Companies including Apple, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Facebook, eBay, Tesla and more were all founded in this microcosm of innovation, in the so named Silicon Valley which lies just a few miles south of San Francisco.

With the UK government looking to sprout future digital revolutionaries from British shores the newly redesigned Computer Science curriculum could and probably will play a huge role in the future of the UK economy and culture.  Gone are the days when coding was for IT geeks, computer science is now becoming mainstream.  With this in mind, now is the time to take your students on inspirational trip of a lifetime to the birthplace of the digital revolution – Silicon Valley.  Here, Adaptable Travel will attempt to give some tips and advice on the different visits available within the Silicon Valley and how to get the most of your school trip to the area.

What and where is the Silicon Valley

The Silicon Valley is the nickname for the southern San Francisco Bay area in California, comprising of distinct districts including Paolo Alto, Mountain View and San Jose.  The nickname ‘Silicon Valley’ refers to the large number of silicon chip innovators and manufacturers within the Santa Clara Valley, with ‘Santa Clara’ being replaced with ‘Silicon’.

Where to stay?

Silicon Valley is in the shadows of San Francisco, and Adaptable Travel have a good range of hotels in and around San Francisco.  We have accommodation in and around Downtown San Francisco, or for a quieter yet more high quality accommodation offering we can offer the Hilton in Berkley Marina.  All options are just a short ride away from the major sites of the Silicon Valley..

When visiting the Silicon Valley, it is important to note that due to the vast range of visits available, it is up to you as group leader to decide on where and when you would like to see, we will help organise the perfect bespoke school trip.  However below is a sample of visits we have put together into different day tours to allow you to see the major sites in the most cost effective and logical order.

DAYTRIP: The founding of Silicon Valley

Duration: Approx. 8 hours

Includes: Coach, Guide, entrance to Computer History Museum

You will see: The main attractions are Stanford University, HP Garage (HP birthplace), Professorville, Computer History Museum.

In more detail: Take this as your first full daytrip to give your students a grounding of how the Silicon Valley sprouted into a digital revolution.  Starting at Stanford University, a student led tour will show students where Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and many more tech innovators studied and continue to lead the way in world tech innovation. You will then continue by coach to the Hewlett-Package birthplace (exterior viewing only)., a tiny shed in Palo Alto which in 1939 became the first Silicon Valley tech start-up, considered a catalyst behind the region’s growth. In the afternoon you will travel onto nearby Computer History Museum, the world’s leading computer museum dedicated to the history of computing from mysterious ancient devices to founding computer devices.  Depending upon how much time you would like at the Computer History Museum (we recommend around 2 hours) you can travel onto the Intel Museum, allowing students to go behind the scenes to learn about the microprocessor, silicon chip design and chip fabrication, in addition to fantastic interactive exhibits. You then return to San Francisco.

Alternative options: This day is totally flexible, and you may decide to stay further north in Silicon Valley, or indeed travel further afield to see more tech companies headquarters – you will have a coach and a guide for the day and we can tailor this day to your needs..

DAYTRIP: Apple, Google & big tech daytrip

Duration: Approx. 8 hours

Includes: Coach, Guide, entrance to Nasa Ames, Apple HQ visitor centre (new), Tech Museum of Innovation and IMAX

You will see: The main attractions are the new Apple HQ visitor centre, Googleplex campus, Nasa Ames Research Centre, Tech Museum of Innovation, and drive-by of other large tech companies

In more detail: A full day coach trip with full-day guide will start off by visiting Nasa Ames Research Centre, home of many a space missions and exhibits rock from the Moon, spacecraft artefacts and more. Then onto nearby Googleplex – the global HQ of Google. It is not possible for Adaptable Travel to organise entrance to Google and hence the tour will be exploring as much of the campus as security allow. Some of our groups have be able to organise access themselves into Google buildings.

After looking at the Googleplex campus you will head south to the domain of Apple, passing by the garage where Steve Jobs founded Apple (please note this will be viewed from your coach) and then onto their campus at 1 Infinite Loop.  This will soon become the ‘old’ campus as they are due to soon complete their new $5 billion new HQ, dubbed ‘The Spaceship’.  This new centre, Apple Campus 2, built in a ring with a 1-mile circumference, will also house a $80 million visitor centre which will allow views of the new HQ from the rooftop observation deck, eating facilities and an enlarged, totally unique Apple merchandise store – a must for all Apple users with merchandise available only at this store. This will be available for trips from 2017 onwards, and will surely be a highlight of the trip.  Subject to how much time you wish to spend at Apple and Google, you then should have ample time to visit the Tech Museum of Innovation.  This unique museum is highly recommended, to witness the technology of tomorrow including ‘social robots’ and the latest space technology in the Tech Test Zone. There is also the option to add in an IMAX screening here too.

Alternative options: As per the previous day, this day is totally flexible on what you decide to see and do.  We recommend taking you coach east to drive-by the headquarters of some other Silicon Valley giants, including eBay, Adobe and LinkedIn.

Visits in San Francisco

San Francisco is a world-renowned city and you could easily spend days in the city itself visiting the various attractions including Golden Gate Bridge, China Town, the famous ‘cable car’ travelling up and down the San Fran hills or Union Square.  There are also some excellent science and technology related visits in the city, including the incredible Exploratorium interactive science centre or California Academy of Sciences, officially the world’s greenest museum.  Of course, Adaptable Travel would be happy to create a day or more sightseeing tour for your students taking in the main sights, and even a trip to the infamous Alcatraz island and prison – often a highlight of the trip.  We also organise multi-centre West Coast USA school trips, which take in destinations including Los Angeles, Las Vegas and some of the national parks including Yosemite and Death Valley.  Contact us for further information on our multi-centre school trips to the West Coast.

Your Trip

As you can see, there are an abundance of visit combinations available for your group, but wherever you choose to visit if Computer Science is your chosen subject, Silicon Valley is the place to take your students for an ultimate school trip of inspiration.  When you book your trip with Adaptable Travel, we will ensure it is bespoke to the needs of your group, considering your budget, dates, group size and topics of interest.  Our team are highly experienced in organising school trips to San Francisco and the Silicon Valley, so contact us today and give us a try.

Contact Adaptable Travel today to start planning your school trip to Silicon Valley.