The planetarium is a wonderful place to instill excitement about science in young minds; it also can help teachers in meeting state standards. Below is a list of current school shows. Suitable grade levels are indicated, but these are only guidelines. Note that the current public show is always available, and is generally suitable and recommended for middle and high school classes.
The planetarium underwent a major renovation in 2011, but this means some of our old school shows are no longer available. However, we now have some new shows, and these full-dome digital productions are amazing! We plan to keep adding to our school-show repertoire every year (for example, see Magic Treehouse below.
Admission fees for school shows were originally $3 per person, including teachers and adults, but those fees are being subsidized through a generous and ongoing donation from Jean and Ric Edelman (thank you, Jean and Ric!). We can legally accomodate up to 102 people, but no more. The usual times for visits are 9:30 and 11 a.m., Monday through Friday, but we can usually make exceptions, and afternoons are usually available.
To make reservations, email thedirector at email@example.com, or call him at 856.256.4389 during business hours. He checks his email frequently. He's also down in the dome most of the time, having fun with... I mean, diligently programming the SciDome system, and the phone there may or may not be on, so email may be faster.
One World, One Sky: Big Bird's Adventure
(Gr. Pre-K-1) (NEW, Spring 2015)
Young audience members will be thrilled when they find themselves on Sesame Street with their famous friends, Big Bird and Elmo. The fun begins when Elmo's friend, Hu Hu Zhu, visits from China and the three of them take the audience on an exciting journey of discovery to learn about the Sun, stars, and Big Dipper. Elmo and Hu Hu Zhu blast off on an imaginary trip to the Moon and when they return home to Earth everyone discovers that, no matter where we live, we all share the same sky.
The Magic Tree House©:
Space Mission (Gr. 1-5)
Jack and Annie are off on another exciting new adventure in the world's only full-dome planetarium show based on The Magic Tree House series.
The adventure begins when Jack and Annie discover a mysterious note, signed only with an “M,” that is filled with questions about space. Their search to answer the questions for “M” and solve the mystery leads them on a journey from their home into deepest space. The two set out to discover the secrets of the Sun, Moon, planets, space travel and more. Along the way, they meet an astronaut, an astronomer and even Magic Tree House book series author Mary Pope Osborne. This was the recommended show for grades 2-4 in the spring of 2016.
Earth, Moon, and Sun (Gr. 2-5)
This planetarium show explores the relationship between the Earth, Moon and Sun with the help of Coyote, an amusing character adapted from Native American oral traditions who has many misconceptions about our home planet and its most familiar neighbors. His confusion about the universe makes viewers think about how the Earth, Moon and Sun work together as a system. Native American stories are used throughout the show to help distinguish between myths and science.
Learn why the Sun rises and sets and the basics of fusion and solar energy. Examine the Moon's orbit, craters, phases and eclipses. Also, the show explores past and future space travel to our Moon and beyond.
The Little Star That Could (Gr. 1-3).
An average star is born from a great cloud of gas and dust. We follow his journey through space, searching for planets and a name for himself. He encounters stars of all sizes and temperatures, including a hot blue star and the double stars Goldie and Sapphire, but none of them can give him any planets. Finally, the Milky Way speaks to him, and reveals where his planets have been hiding. His planets tell him all about themselves, and give him his special name (no, I'm not going to reveal it here: you'll have to come see the show!).
The Secret of the Cardboard Rocket (Gr. 2-5).
Two children build a rocket ship out of a large cardboard box, and find that they can actually travel out to the planets. Moreover, the astronomy book they took out of the library talks to them, teaching them about the planets. After several adventures, they return to Earth with a new sense of wonder about our solar system.
The Zula Patrol: Under the Weather (K-2)
The stalwart heroes of the Zula Patrol are on an expedition collecting samples of weather for scientist Multo's research -- using their loyal pet Gorga's ability to collect and bottle all kinds of weather. But when the Zula gang inadvertently hurts Gorga's feelings, he decides to leave Zula and find another planet to live on. Interplanetary villain Dark Truder then tricks Gorga into stealing the weather from other planets - part of his latest nefarious scheme to rule the Universe. The ZPers find out and go after him - in the process learning all about weather, both terrestrial and interplanetary.
Perfect Little Planet (Gr. 3-6)
Imagine the ultimate space vacation! What if you could travel the galaxy to find that ideal place? Discover our solar system through a new set of eyes – a family from another star system seeking the perfect vacation spot. Fly over the surface of Pluto, our best known Dwarf Planet. Dive over the ice cliffs of Miranda. Sail through the rings of Saturn. Feel the lightning storms at Jupiter. And walk on the surface of Mars. Which destination would you choose? This is the solar system journey for space travelers of all ages.
Black Holes: The Other Side of Infinity (MS, HS) .
A dramatic look at these strange objects: where they are, what they're like, what it would look like if you fell into one. Narrated by Liam Neeson.
Natural Selection (MS, HS)
This is a different kind of planetarium show! Natural Selection celebrates the 150th anniversary of the publication of “On the Origin of Species” and the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth.
We will join Darwin on his voyage aboard the HMS Beagle to the Galapagos Islands where he was inspired to develop his later theory of transmutation by natural selection.
From the comfort of Down House in Kent, Darwin himself will explain the mechanism of natural selection to the audience, and support it by showing many beautiful examples in nature.
The thrill of a scientific discovery, the adventure of science and the beauty of nature are central in this show.
Passport to the Universe (MS, HS)
Are you ready for a really big trip? Narrated by two-time Academy Award winner Tom Hanks, this movie will whisk you on a fascinating ride from Earth to the outskirts of the universe. You’ll fly beneath the rings of Saturn; into the heart of the Great Orion Nebula to watch stars being born; and finally out to the most distant galaxies. After reaching the edges of our known universe, the tour takes a “virtual shortcut” back to Earth — in a free fall, headlong through a black hole.
This is a good, general introduction to various parts of the universe.
Two Small Pieces of Glass: The Amazing Telescope (MS, HS).
The story of the telescope, from Galileo to the Hubble Space Telescope. How they work, what sorts of amazing things are visible with modern instruments, the nature of light and optics.
Stars: The Powerhouses of the Universe (5-6, MS, HS).
Every star has a story. Some are as old as time, faint and almost forgotten. Others burn bright and end their lives in powerful explosions. New stars are created every day, born of vast clouds of gas and dust. Through every phase of their existence, stars release the energy that powers the Universe. Journey to the furthest reaches of our galaxy and experience both the awesome beauty and destructive power of STARS.
Suitable for audiences of all ages, this dramatic program features narration by Mark Hamill and stunning 3D animation by NSC creative at the National Space Centre in Leicester, UK. Come see the stars up close and personal!*
*In fact, we begin the show inside a star!
The Search for Life: Are We Alone? (MS, HS)
Does life exist anywhere else in the universe? Ancient mythologies and contemporary science fiction have presented imaginative possibilities, but how does modern science approach this question? The Search for Life: Are We Alone? begins to answer this intriguing question in a breathtaking fulldome video show narrated by Academy Award-nominated actor Harrison Ford.
Dynamic Earth (MS, HS)
This show explores the inner workings of Earth's climate system. With visualizations based on satellite monitoring data and advanced supercomputer simulations, this cutting-edge production follows a trail of energy that flows from the Sun into the interlocking systems that shape our climate: the atmosphere, oceans, and the biosphere. Audiences will ride along on swirling ocean and wind currents, dive into the heart of a monster hurricane, come face-to-face with sharks and gigantic whales, and fly into roiling volcanoes.
The universe is filled with explosive events. Ancient supernovae tore giant stars apart, spreading the atoms that now make up your body into deep space. Subatomic particles smash into one another in the Large Hadron Collider, echoing the foundational events of our early universe. And, of course, there was once a Really Big Bang…
“Exploding Universe” portrays these events in all their glory, and shows how they impact your life.
To Space and Back (MS, HS)
The exploration of space has a daily impact on our lives. It is helping us to discover a universe of unimaginable scale and beauty, and it is reaching down into our world and influencing the way we live.
“To Space and Back” takes the audience on an incredible journey from the far reaches of our known universe to the surface of our own planet. It is an extraordinary story of human ingenuity and incredible engineering, describing how the technology that transports us through space is paving the way for the devices and apps we use every day. What is happening above our heads is coming back down to Earth!
Astronaut (MS, HS)
Astronauts are our modern-day explorers. But how do they get up there? How do they train for space? What happens to their bodies while on a mission? What hazards do they face? What do they learn while living in space? This immersive movie, narrated by Ewan McGregor, will give you answers in dramatic and sometimes humorous ways.
Experience a rocket launch from inside the body of an astronaut. Explore the amazing worlds of inner and outer space, from floating around the International Space Station to maneuvering through microscopic regions of the human body. Discover the perils that lurk in space as we subject Chad, our test astronaut, to everything that space has to throw at him.
Supervolcanoes (MS, HS)
An immersive planetarium show that looks back at rare classes of eruptions that have released the energy that lurks, like a sleeping dragon, beneath the surface of planet Earth. The program moves beyond Earth to explore the impact of giant volcanic eruptions around our solar system. Audiences will fly down to Neptune's frigid moon Triton, and onto the ultimate volcanic world: Jupiter's moon Io. Finally, on a visit to a legendary North American hot spot, Yellowstone National Park, the film asks: can a supervolcano erupt in our time?
Moons: Worlds of Mystery
Moons immerses you in the amazing diversity of moons and the important roles they play in shaping our Solar System.
From volcanoes and geysers to ice-covered oceans and methane rain, these natural satellites have some spectacular features, and many even exert a surprising influence on their planetary partners. Learn what these celestial bodies reveal about the history and workings of our solar system.
Follow in the footsteps of astronauts to our silvery Moon, then venture beyond to unfamiliar and exotic worlds. Journey to the outer planets and their moons, and return home with newfound wonder about the dynamic and intricate Solar System in which we all live.
Back to the Moon: For Good
We're finally returning to the Moon!
This is not science fiction: it’s happening now. Teams from around the world (including one from Penn State) are competing for the Google Lunar X Prize, to be awarded in 2015 to the first non-governmental organization to land on the Moon, travel 500 meters, and send back high-resolution visual proof of the accomplishment.
The dome-show, narrated by actor Tim Allen, introduces us to the hundreds of men and women who are involved in this exciting contest. The benefits of exploring and utilizing this new world, the valuable resources waiting to be tapped, and the unsolved mysteries still to be solved will all be portrayed in the powerful immersive visual environment of the SciDome theater. We’ll also venture forward in time to view the future history of humans on the Moon.
Come join us on a voyage to our sister world!
Last updated 5/6/2016.