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 (see the list at the bottom of this page). 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.
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., Tuesday through Friday, but we can usually make exceptions, and afternoons are nearly always available.
To make reservations, email director Keith Johnson 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.
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. This will be the recommended show for 3rd and 4th grades for 2014-2015.
The Little Star That Could (Gr. 1?-6?).
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 reason for the question marks above is that the astronomical information is sufficient for sixth graders, but the story format is accessible to first graders! After you see it, we would welcome any comments about suitability of this show for your particular grade. We feel it would be reasonable for a wide range of ages... but you teachers are the experts!
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. Our public show, fall 2011.
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).
The story of stars, up close*, as narrated by Mark Hamill.
*In fact, we begin the show inside a star!
The Search for Life: Are We Alone? (MS, HS)
Is there life elsewhere in the universe? If so, where? What are the scientific chances? How can we discover it? Narrated by 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.
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!
No longer available: the following shows will not be converted to the new digital format, and are no longer available:
Planet Patrol, Images of the Infinite, The Friendly Stars.
Last update 7/18/2014.