All aboard! Belle of Louisville Riverboats brings our city’s rich history to life and provides a hands-on experience for students to engage with the past. Whether your class cruises on the iconic Mary M. Miller (named after America’s first licensed female steamboat captain) or on the historic Belle of Louisville (the oldest operating Mississippi-river style steamboat in the world), your students are sure to discover a new love for learning!
Teachers will work with Eric Frantz (Guest & Education Programs Manager) and Caisey Cole (Programs Coordinator) to plan a field trip that not only aligns with your curriculum, but brings history to life.
what educational programs are available?
What Makes the Belle Unique?
This program uses inquiry-based learning to explore the Belle of Louisville’s rich river history and discover how our past affects today.
Boat: Belle of Louisville
KY Standards: 1.G.MM.1 – 4.G.KGE.1 – 8.E.KE.2
Activities: Classroom session with a hands-on component, investigation guides and a cruise
Cruise Through History (coming soon)
This program is a narration-based cruise about the founding of Louisville and the impact steamboats had on the growth of our city.
Boat: Belle of Louisville or Mary M. Miller
KY Standards: Coming soon
Activities: Narration and Investigation Guides (Belle of Louisville) or Adventure Passports (Mary M. Miller).
guided and self-guided tours
Guided Tours of the Belle of Louisville
Guided tours of the Belle of Louisville are also available*! As your students step aboard the 106-year-old steamer, they will discover her iconic boiler room, where the fireman fires the boilers for each cruise; explore the historic engine room, home to an engine older than the Belle and more.
(*Dependent on group size. Guided tours and cruises of the Belle of Louisville are only available April through October. Tours and cruises on the Mary M. Miller are available year-round.)
Self-guided visits are available on both the Belle of Louisville and the Mary M. Miller. Students will receive Adventure Passports (best suited for grades K-6) and a cruise on one of our two vessels.
customized programs & field trips
Customized programs and field trips can also be organized to meet the needs of the curriculum. It is recommended that teachers contact Eric Frantz at least one month ahead of the field trip to begin customizing educational materials.
Examples of past, ongoing, and future customized programs include:
- Mark Twain’s Steamboat Era: A customized program focused on looking at steamboat history through the lens of one of America’s most iconic authors.
- Women’s History on the River: A customized program that focused on Mary M. Miller, America’s first licensed female steamboat captain.
- Black Life on the Ohio River: (Program in development) Customized programing exploring the life of black workers on and around the Louisville wharf during the golden age of steamboats (mid-19th century).
adventure passports and investigation guides
Two educational materials students can receive when visiting Belle of Louisville Riverboats are Adventure Passports and Investigation Guides. Adventure Passports are best suited for grades K-6 and include games, a coloring page, history, and a map of landmarks along the river. Click here for more information on Adventure Passports.
The Belle of Louisville Investigation Guide is available to students on guided trips. This guide is focused on connecting the Belle of Louisville with KY Standards for Social Studies and is best suited for grades 1-8. The Investigation Guide gives students the opportunity to explore the Belle’s historic engine room, learn about the first licensed female steamboat captain in America and much more.
ket electronic field trip
KET has a great electronic field trip of the Belle of Louisville, which offers a glimpse of what the Belle of Louisville has to offer your students, in addition to plenty of resources and activities. To access the KET Electronic Field Trip, click here.
free activity: map out the belle of louisville
Just how big is the Belle? Students will measure the size of the Belle with this free downloadable activity, best suited for grades K-4. Click here to download.
meet the education & programs team
Caisey Cole, Community Engagement Coordinator
Originally a Florida native, Caisey is an actress with a dedication to her community. Working for the Belle in the Program Coordinator position applies both her creative skill and connections she has made in her time in Louisville. She hopes to help make the Belle even more of a place you cannot miss when visiting, and a place to learn from if you live here!
Eric Frantz, Guest and Education Programs Manager
Eric has worked in the museum theatre field for over 15 years and closely ties together educational programing with live experiences, both in the classroom and onstage. Being born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, the Belle of Louisville holds a special place in his heart. Working onboard this historic steamboat is a dream come true.