Paper Session #2a

Paper Session #2a

  • FEELING THE STARS: Accessibility of “The Little Star That Could” Program in the James S. McDonnell Planetarium at the Saint Louis Science Center for Visitors Who are Blind or Have Low Vision · Anna Rebecca Green, James S. McDonnell Planetarium, St. Louis, MO
    Abstract: The James S. McDonnell Planetarium at the Saint Louis Science Center in Missouri serves a large and diverse population of visitors seeking a museum of science and technology. In general, the facilities and educational programs are compliant for visitors with differing needs, abilities and exceptionalities. There are universal design-based improvements and accommodations, however, being implemented to help visitors who are blind or have low vision have a more engaging and inclusive experience. This paper details the creation of an extended version of “The Little Star That Could” program in the James S. McDonnell Planetarium. The program offers accessibility to the target audience of pre-K through second grade students, their family members and instructors who are blind or have low vision. “Feeling the Stars” is the beginning of the creation of accessible programs for all planetarium shows offered in the James S. McDonnell Planetarium and hopefully for all planetaria worldwide that show “The Little Star That Could.” Furthermore, it serves to form a base for creating awareness of and the tools to aid the underserved population of planetarium visitors who are blind or have low vision.
  • Enriching Our Professional Development · Jean Creighton, Univ. of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Manfred Olson Planetarium, Milwaukee, WI
    Abstract: Because our work is so specialized, we often have to build our own professional development opportunities to remain excited about what we do. I will describe some of the partnerships I have developed to learn more about the ins and outs of storytelling, familiarize myself with some of the large body of research on how people learn in general and in informal environments in particular, and investigate Greek mythology from scholarly sources. I hope this paper will give you ideas you can explore where you are.
  • NITARP: Educators Partnering with Astronomers for Research · Joe Childers, Boonshoft Museum of Discovery, Dayton, OH
    Abstract: NITARP, the NASA/IPAC Teacher Archive Research Program, gets teachers involved in authentic astronomical research, partnering with a mentor professional astronomer for an original research project. I’ll describe the program itself, my experiences and the research my team did, and talk about how you might be able to get involved with NITARP.
  • Project Nanotarium: The Most Inexpensive, Quality DIY Planetarium on Earth · Jim Sweitzer, Marcelo Caplan, and David Morton, Columbia College Chicago, Chicago, IL
    Abstract: Project Nanotarium’s goal is to develop small, inexpensive planetarium projectors, “Nanotariums,” that can be made by astronomy educators and their students anywhere in the world. The budgetary objective is to create a simple, optical planetarium projector for approximately $50 in readily-obtainable parts. Nanotariums feature educationally useful, single star field images that are projected using quality optics onto ceilings or walls. Bright, high color-temperature LEDs and the ability to easily create digital star fields for laser cutting or high-contrast photography have made this project possible. An added objective is that these projectors can eventually be offered as full or partial kits. The project team is developing corollary curricula on the physics of optics and light on which the projectors depend along with the digital files for the star fields and 3D printing for special parts. Nanotariums can rightly be termed a comprehensive DIY (Do It Yourself) STEM learning project. The proof of concept for this mini-projection system was successfully tested at Columbia College Chicago’s Summer 2013 Junior Research Scientists program where 16 high school students made their own personal Nanotariums.
  • Immersive Creations - NEURODOME · Patrick McPike, Mount Prospect, IL
    Abstract: The NEURODOME project is a non-profit, Kickstarter-backed planetarium show produced by Neurovision LLC and Immersive Creations LLC. Combining SCISS AB-developed UNIVIEW planetarium production technology with high-resolution brain imaging techniques, we are creating a dome-format animated film that examines what it is about the brain that drives us to journey into the unknown. Seamlessly interspersed with space visuals, the NEURODOME planetarium show will travel through the brain in the context of cutting-edge astronomical research. This project will present our most current portraits of neurons, networks, and regions of the brain responsible for exploratory behavior and lead you to imagine that an explorer is locked away in your own mind.
  • Scaling the Solar System: Making Connections with the Classroom, Community, and the Family of the Sun · Mark S. Reed, Peter F. Hurst Planetarium, Jackson, MI
    Abstract: The Solar System is a topic that many people enjoy learning about but within its inherent interest lay many misconceptions. Commercial products from puzzles, children’s books, toys, models, and textbooks often indirectly communicate information that is simply not true about the relative size or distances to objects within our Solar System. The purpose of my paper is to provide a working model that teachers can use in their own school or community.
  • Suggestions for Planetarium Survival and Success: Working with New Science Standards · Jeanne E. Bishop, Westlake Schools Planetarium, Westlake, OH
    Abstract: The new national STEM standards have deleted some of the astronomy content that was in earlier documents. State and local departments are following the national lead, so that fewer astronomy concepts are expected in the school curriculum. Our planetariums need to become better advocates than ever for both astronomy education generally and the ways that planetariums can be used to help teach astronomy concepts. We can continue to introduce in-depth astronomy ideas into the lives of the students in our regions, but we need to be aggressive and creative, both in our programming and our communication with teachers. In this paper, I will suggest what we can do in our planetariums to fulfill new STEM standards, such as cross-cutting concepts, while helping students learn more astronomy than what the STEM standards now call for. I also will share some ways we might communicate with teachers to help them realize the importance of coming to the planetarium for these lessons, even if their curriculum seems to include less astronomy.
  • CREATE: Creating Relevant Astronomy Education through Experience · Robert Bonadurer, Milwaukee Public Museum/Soref Planetarium, Milwaukee, WI
    Abstract: Funded by a NASA grant, the CREATE after school program immerses high school students in astronomy and then allows them to create a planetarium show. They will first create an individual video project for YouTube distribution. Students will choose and research their topics, write scripts, draw a storyboard, set art and music direction, and choose their narrator. Next, they will work in groups to produce scenes that will ultimately be compiled into one 25-minute full-dome planetarium show that will be distributed by October 2015. CREATE students will also act as mentors, presenting their final products to high school and middle school students, as well their families and the general public. These effort are all designed to stimulate interest pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM.
  • Using WorldWide Telescope for Dome Productions · Doug Roberts, Northwestern University/Microsoft Research, Chicago, IL
    Abstract: WorldWide Telescope (WWT) is free software developed at Microsoft Research for the visual exploration of astronomical and Earth science data. The latest release of WWT can be used to produce and deliver experiences for planetarium domes. WWT is currently being used at several planetaria, from small inflatable domes all the way to large domes, such as the Grainger Sky Theater at the Adler Planetarium. WorldWide Telescope can be installed to work alongside vendor supplied software and systems. I will review the overall state the software and present examples of how WWT could be used in our planetaria, including producing parts of shows to running complete systems, including multi-projector calibration and interactive, real-time delivery. I will end by asking feedback on what functionality delegates would like to see in future releases of WWT.
  • Cosmic Wonder: A Journey Through Past, Present, and Future · Mike Smail, Adler Planetarium, Chicago, IL
    Abstract: Earlier this year, the Adler team took on the challenge of creating a new planetarium show, visualized entirely in Microsoft Research’s WorldWide Telescope software. I’ll discuss the process behind our journey of wonder, observation, and discovery, a new audience interaction technique, some of the ins and outs of Worldwide Telescope, and reactions to the finished product.