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Planetarium Classes


Where Stars Are Born, Grades 3-8

When we look at pictures of nebulae we can truly imagine the vast beauty of creations made within our universe. What exactly are nebulas made of? When we look at the night sky, where can we find these unique cosmic clouds? From the famous Helix nebula 700 light years away to the beautiful V838 Mon nebula 20,000 light years away, we'll discover how these giagantic deep space objects keep our galaxy forever changing.

Native American Star Stories, Grade 3 and U.S. History classes

This planetarium show focuses on a combination of star stories from the Indian nations, offering an introduction to culture in contrast to other versions of star stories. Beginning with our local Abenaki tribe and including, among others, the Cherokee, Onanadaga, Tewa Pueblo, and Klingit, students experience the breadth and scope of the traditions that inform present day and past native culture.

Myths in the Sky, Grades 6-8

This class is adapted to the knowledge base of the class at hand.  For students who have been studying myths and legends, the museum educator begins with student knowledge, asking them to retell the stories. The characters in those stories and the storylines are illustrated through star patterns.  Students new to the study of myths learn that there are three types of myths related to the night skies: explanation myths, myths inspired by the constellations, and myths that use constellations to retell an established story.

 Bang! Zoom! To the Moon!, Grades 1-3

How does the moon move, and why does it change appearance?  The moon is the most easily recognized object in the night sky, as well as the most misunderstood.  It changes shape, location and timing, creates eclipses, and is the only other planetary object humans have landed on and explored. Following the planetarium experience, students use clay to makes a scale model of the relative size of sun to moon, and explore how the moon moves, independent of the earth, and vice versa. The session closes with a viewing of actual moon landings.

Bang!  Zoom! To the Moon!Grades 3-5

In addition to the description above, students will see the phases and movement of the moon and learn how sun and shadow affect its appearance.  If appropriate, students will be introduced to topics such as the origin of the moon, its gravitational effect and solar and lunar eclipse.

Tonight's Skies, Grades 4-8

This class explores the night's skies on the day of the visit in the planetarium and focuses on what can be seen from students' back yards.  While touring the night sky, the museum educator will relate what is seen to science, mythology, planetary science, and current events.

Dancing with the Planets, Grades 6-8

This planetarium experience explores planetary movement around the sun, progressing from ancient views of the solar system in other cultures to our modern understanding.  

Solar System Safari, Grades K,1

As an introduction to the planetarium, students take a journey from planet to planet.  Students identify rocky planets close to the earth and compare them to gaseous planets further away, exploring why life on earth can exist in contrast to other planets.

Pluto….At Last, Grades 3-8

After its discovery 85 years ago, and going through changes from a planet to a dwarf planet, Pluto finally arrives center stage.  The New Horizon’s spacecraft completes its nine year journey to the mysterious, dark, icy world this July, racing through Pluto and its moons July 14th.  In additional to the latest images, explore what we know about Pluto and other icy bodies, find out why it makes sense to classify Pluto as a dwarf planet.

It Came From Above!, Grades 3-8

Most of the Mass Extinctions endured by life on Earth have their origins in outer space. Would you like to know the many ways in which the Cosmos could destroy us?  Come learn about the meteors, comets, Gamma Ray Bursts, rogue planets, and even Red Giants that plot our destruction even now…. Can we do something about them? Is there hope for our planet, or are we all doomed?!

Star-studded Stories in the Skies, Grades 5-8

When we look at a starry sky on some clear evening, we might recognize a few of the patterns we call constellations.  These patterns have deep roots, and tap into the very nature of what makes us human.  This means that the mythology related to the dozens of constellations we see are more than just stories.  Myths are sometimes used to explain natural phenomena, and as such touch upon many aspects of science.  They also offer models of behavior and belief, becoming part of rules and laws to govern people.  And myths do so within the structure of a story, creating a legacy of literature, and inspiring works of art.  This class seeks to broaden our science of astronomy to include history and the arts, so that the stars become a source of interest to everyone.

When Juno Met Jupiter, Grades 1-8

On the 4th of July, 2016, NASA's Juno Mission will begin the most ambitious exploration yet of the Solar System's largest planet.  Juno will begin a multi-year survey of Jupiter with an unprecedented polar-orbit, magnetometers and radiometers that can "see" through the viscous clouds, and an High-Definition camera that is likely to discover new features and even new moons! Jupiter will still be visible in our evening skies when this historic rendezvous takes place. 

The “Stars” of the Show - the Nature of Stars, Grades 3-8*

Gazing into the sky on a clear night, we see countless stars – bright, dim, close together, far apart, and displaying hints of different colors.  We might use our imagination to create a picture – a constellation – but exactly what IS a star, and how can we find out? We start with the star closest to us, the one we can observe in the greatest detail….the Sun.  In many ways, the Sun is what sustains life on Earth, through a process than sends large amounts of energy without interruption, and without any significant changes.  Students will build on this examination of the workings of our Sun to develop a foundation of knowledge about other stars – how they form, what they are made of, and how they work. Students will learn to safely view the Sun, weather-permitting, and will observe (live or through images) details on the Sun’s surface.  Students will look at data to discover patterns of solar activity, and then discuss the possible affects of the Sun on the Earth, including recent information about decreased solar activity. *(Does not take place in the planetarium)