Conference Descriptions: 2010-2019

NO.
LOCATION
YEAR
PRESIDENT
SECRETARY/TREASURER
46
Notre Dame, Indiana
2010
John Schroer
John French
Spitz Lecturer: Chuck Bueter
Attendance: 133 + 30 vendors 
Dates: October 20 - 23, 2010 2010 Group Photo

After the Wednesday night opening reception in Jordan Hall we went right into the “Digital Visualization Theater” (DVT, otherwise known as the planetarium) for the first vendor showcase of the conference. That was followed by the DVT staff presenting their own showcase of material so we could all see some of the unique things they were up to at Notre Dame. In today’s economy, where planetariums are closing down, it was good to see a brand new facility, especially one crossing disciplines. The fact that Notre Dame’s planetarium (DVT) is being utilized by many different departments besides science should be an eye-opening note for many who are looking for ways to stay open.

On Thursday after breakfast and the usual welcome, it was on to paper session 1. The morning finished up with a second vendor showcase and then a break for lunch. There were quite a number of workshops offered at this conference so the afternoon was filled with two full sessions of workshops. Francine Jackson joined GLPA a number of years ago on the advice of Steve Mitch, who had told her that GLPA was the most education based of the planetarium associations. He was right and the workshop sessions are a good example. There were more hands-on materials available again this year, such as Dayle Brown’s Treasure Island and Karrie Berglund’s lesson plan on how we know what we know.

As we came to together to relax and have dinner, we were awed by hearing about “Dark Energy” presented by Dr. Peter M. Garnavich from the Department of Physics at the University of Notre Dame. And then . . . with new vendors arriving on the scene each year wanting everybody to see what they are offering, we were back in the DVT for dessert . . . uhh, I mean two more sessions of vendor demos before the “relaxation” began in the hospitality suite. Speaking of new vendors, one of the most unique at this conference was one selling 3D astronomy-themed postcards. What a beautiful and inexpensive addition to any museum or planetarium store.

The order of the day on Friday was paper and poster sessions. This is the “meat” of the conference where GLPA members share with each other. We did take a break at lunch to hear our own Dr. Ron Kaitchuck present his second Astronomy Update, so that all of us under the dome can be up-to-date with what’s going on. Friday, of course, ends with the annual Spitz banquet. This year Chuck Bueter had the honor of presenting the Spitz lecture, “Enthusiasm Flowing in the GLPA Watershed.”

On Saturday we continued the learning and sharing with additional paper presentations followed by the GLPA business meeting. We got to relax once more at the end, as we socialized, received door prizes, and said our farewells for yet another year.

 

NO.
LOCATION
YEAR
PRESIDENT
SECRETARY/TREASURER
47
Champaign, Illinois
2011
John Schroer
John French
Spitz Lecturer: Lee Ann Hennig
Attendance: 121 + 37 vendors
Dates: October 19 - 22, 2011 2011 Group Photo

This year's experience started Wednesday evening with a wonderful reception in the planetarium's curved lobby. Once again, old friendships were renewed and new ones begun. All too soon it was down to business being wowed by the latest from vendors. Two vendor sessions that evening got everyone warmed up for the next couple of days. One of the other highlights of the evening was the ice cream sundae bar in the planetarium lobby during the break.

After a welcome and introductions Thursday morning at the Staerkel Planetarium, we were immediately treated to the new GLPA-sponsored show, "Cosmic Colors." This was the show's premiere and I think we were all impressed! Then it was time for the return of an old friend. Our own Dr. Jim Kaler was back talking about "Cosmic Mysteries." After his presentation, GLPA's favorite astronomer said farewell to a long standing ovation. This had been a great start to a great conference.

After a break, it was on to Paper Session 1 where "full dome" information figured prominently. We relaxed with a box lunch before our hosts attempted to capture us, still fresh at the beginning of the conference, in our annual group photo taken in the Dodds Athletic Center. More vendor showcases highlighted new technology before we headed back to the hotel for workshop sessions. There was a great variety of workshops this year, from production software to dark energy to the transit of Venus. After a dinner buffet, we saw the last of the vendor's showcases. Now, we were ready to relax in the hospitality suite!

Friday was paper session day at the hotel. After a breakfast buffet, we got right to it. There were many great papers with ideas, techniques, and information important to all of us. We then relaxed at lunch anticipating this year's astronomy update by Dr. Ron Kaitchuck. Once our heads were filled with what's new in astronomy, it was off to more great papers and a couple special interest group sessions.

Everyone had some time to freshen up before the annual banquet and this years's inspiring Spitz Lecturer, Lee Ann Hennig, a true professional planetarian. In addition, Dave DeRemer was the recipient of the GLPA Service Award and new Fellows were Mike Narlock, Mark Webb, and Lois Wolf.

Saturday morning's breakfast and state meetings were followed by one more paper session. This is the "meat" of our conferences and it's wonderful seeing so many people sharing with their colleagues. Most of us remained after a refreshing break for the association's annual business meeting. After an officer election, door prizes, and the transferring of the flag to next year's conference host, all too soon we were saying good-bye for another year. A few of us did hang around for a couple interesting post-conference trips. One trip, sponsored by Seiler Instruments/Zeiss, was off to Peoria to check out the latest Zeiss projection technology, while others went to the University of Illinois to visit the historic UI Observatory and the National Center for Supercomputing.

 

NO.
LOCATION
YEAR
PRESIDENT
SECRETARY/TREASURER
48
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
2012
Dave Leake
John French
Spitz Lecturer: Dan Goins
Attendance:  99 + 37 vendors
Dates: October 24 - 27, 2012 2012 Group Photo

Our headquarters for this conference was the Pittsburgh Airport Marriott, with trips to the Carnegie Science Center and North Hills High School thrown in.

As usual, the conference started off Wednesday night with a wonderful reception of heavy hors d’oeuvres, this time among the vendors supporting GLPA. But we were on the move right away the next morning as everyone was handed a “grab & go” breakfast as we boarded buses to the Carnegie Science Center. Vendor demos this year were in the Science Center’s Buhl Planetarium where there was more room for vendor equipment than there would be at North Hills High School.

After we experienced everything new and wonderful the vendors had to offer, we were on the move again, this time after a quick box lunch. We set course for the conference’s home planetarium at North Hills High School. When we arrived at the school, we immediately saw a custom designed GLPA flag waving proudly atop the flag pole in front of the school. North Hills High School Planetarium is a 24-foot facility featuring a Spitz A-4 built in 1969 and upgraded in 1999. With automation and a flurry of projectors, it is a wonderfully well equipped teaching planetarium.

First off was the popular astronomy update lecture, again given by Dr. Ron Kaitchuck, followed by the group photo. It was then on to some serious business with papers and workshops. Another highlight of the day was our dinner speaker Dr. Christian Schunn, who directs a number of research projects in science, mathematics and engineering education at the University of Pittsburgh.

All day Friday was at the conference hotel. After a nice breakfast buffet it was workshops, papers and special interest group meetings. With a break for lunch we heard Dr. Stephane Coutu from Pennsylvania State University describe research he is involved with.

More papers and posters followed that afternoon until it was time to get ready for our annual banquet. Dan Goins was this year’s Spitz Lecturer. Stop him sometime and ask him what he used an animal insemination tube for in his planetarium.

Saturday was devoted to GLPA business at the conference hotel. The GLPA business meeting was followed by lunch where we heard from Diane Turnshek from Carnegie Mellon University. Diane is not only an astronomer and a science fiction author, but somewhere in her past she operated the original Zeiss projector at the Carnegie Science Center.

As always, we had a little fun at the end with door prizes and storytelling. Then it was off to the various corners of GLPA land for another year.

 

NO.
LOCATION
YEAR
PRESIDENT
SECRETARY/TREASURER
49
Peoria, Illinois
2013
Dave Leake
John French
Spitz Lecturer: Art Klinger
Attendance: Attendance: 95 + 39 vendors
Dates: October 16 - 19, 2013 2013 Group Photo

This is the conference that almost wasn’t. A couple weeks before the conference was scheduled to begin, the conference hotel was shut down. If not for the hard work of the conference hosts, the GLPA Executive Committee and especially the Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, there would not have been a conference. In addition, host Sheldon Schafer’s wife was hospitalized! But . . . it came together, and she’s okay too.

This was also a unique conference in that we shared some activities and events with the Illinois Association of Museums at the Peoria Civic Center. The opening reception, the vendor hall, breakfasts, a lunch, two speakers and workshops brought both groups together.

Wednesday evening at the new Peoria Riverfront Museum was complete with hors d’oeuvres, movies in the Giant Screen Theater, a vendor demo session and karaoke under the stars in the planetarium at the end of the day’s events.

On Thursday after a breakfast buffet at the Civic Center, it was off to the museum and down to business with vendor demos. The morning ended with the group photo and then lunch at the Civic Center. We stayed put for the afternoon taking advantage of the spacious facilities for paper sessions and time with vendors. A regular highlight of every GLPA conference is the Astronomy Update Lecture, and Dr. Ron Kaitchuck didn’t let us down. An invited talk by Michael Wysession concerning the Next Generation Science Standards was also of high importance to many.

This was one conference where we all worked off the food as we walked back and forth between the Civic Center and the Museum. On Thursday night we had dinner on our own in Peoria. Dinner on your own at a GLPA conference isn’t as common as it used to be as the schedule of papers, posters, workshops and vendors take more and more time every year. Many welcomed the chance to explore places to eat downtown. Then, it was a walk back to the museum for some evening vendor demos in the dome before socializing at the hospitality suite.

Friday morning was anticipated by many because after breakfast we were privileged to hear a talk by astronaut Scott Altman. After his inspiring presentation it was on to posters and the first session of workshops before lunch. In the afternoon there was a full schedule of concurrent papers. A fresh air walk to the museum was a welcome break as we headed for the dome later in the afternoon for one more paper session and some vendor demos thrown in for good measure. Then it was time to get ready for the banquet at the Marriott Hotel with a great Spitz Lecture by long time member Art Klinger.

Saturday morning came with another workshop session at the museum. GLPA is well known for its emphasis on education and hands-on workshops. It’s nice to see that tradition continuing. The morning was finished up with the all important business meeting, including officer elections. Business meetings are the one time each year GLPA members can interact with each other and the Executive Committee in person, to participate in charting the future course of the association.

The Marriott Hotel was our last stop on Saturday for lunch, door prizes and the closing ceremony.

 

NO.
LOCATION
YEAR
PRESIDENT
SECRETARY / TREASURER
50
Muncie, Indiana
2014
Garry Beckstrom Dan Tell / Cheri Adams
Spitz Lecturer: Sheldon Schafer
Attendance: To be determined
Dates: October 29 - November 1, 2014 2014 Group Photo

Located on the campus of Ball State University, the brand new Charles W. Brown Planetarium opened the week before the GLPA conference. GLPA delegates were the first official audience to occupy the seats of the brand new facility. As Assistant Director Dayna Thompson said, it even had that “new planetarium smell.”

The Wednesday night opening reception was followed by the now familiar vendor demos in the dome. Something new this year was full length shows in the planetarium during the hospitality suite time each evening. This allowed vendors to play entire shows for those who might want to see them.

Vendor demos continued right away on Thursday morning followed by the first paper session. Thursday was a nice fall day, so the group photo was shot outside the new facility. Then it was off to our other headquarters for the conference, the Student Center Building. This would be the location of our meals, many sessions, and the vendor hall.

Long time member Don Hall (aka Captain Science), retired from Strasenburgh Planetarium in Rochester, New York, donated many of his famous astronomy-themed ties to be auctioned off. Don was nice enough to allow all proceeds from the sale of his ties to be donated to GLPA. The ties were on display in the Student Center throughout the conference.

Our first order of business when we arrived was lunch, followed by a talk by Dr. Caty Pilachowski from Indiana University. Dr. Pilachowski’s talk about the next generation of huge telescopes was absolutely fascinating. The rest of the afternoon was workshop time. For those not attending some of the workshops, there were even tours of the Ball State campus and a couple unique buildings.

After a buffet dinner we heard from Dr. Tim Slater from the University of Wyoming. He told us about research in the cognitive learning science so that those who teach astronomical concepts have a better idea how to approach students to help them to understand these concepts. After the talk it was back to the planetarium for more vendor demos and then full length shows along with the hospitality suite.

Friday morning started with paper and poster sessions followed by Dr. Ron Kaitchuck’s Astronomy Update Lecture before lunch. All of Friday afternoon was dedicated to paper sessions. It’s amazing the amount of participation by GLPA members and their willingness to share with their colleagues.

The Alumni Center was the location for the annual banquet and a Spitz Lecture by last year’s conference host, Sheldon Schafer.

Our location on Saturday remained at the Alumni Center where we got in one last paper session before the annual GLPA business meeting. Before the closing of the conference there was some extended story telling with everyone sharing their common experiences.

 

NO.
LOCATION
YEAR
PRESIDENT
SECRETARY / TREASURER
51
Grand Rapids, Michigan
2015
Garry Beckstrom
Dan Tell / Cheri Adams
Spitz Lecturer: Susan Reynolds Button
Attendance: To be determined
Dates: October 14 - 17, 2015 2015 Group Photo

It’s been 50 years since the official formation of the Great Lakes Planetarium Association and we’re back to Grand Rapids where the organization came into being. This year we were honored to have many of the surviving charter members joining us including the principal founder and first president Von Del Chamberlain.

Wednesday evening marked the opening gala as GLPA members explored the Grand Rapids Public Museum. Purrfessor Science (Gary Tomlinson) made an appearance and baffled everyone! Then it was off to the dome for vendor demos to start things off. As last year, the evening ended with full length shows given by vendors during the same hours as the hospitality suite.

Thursday morning continued with vendor demos as delegates experienced everything new for planetariums. After a buffet lunch everyone was fascinated by Dr. Thomas Strikwerda talking about his involvement with the New Horizons spacecraft to Pluto and the many amazing discoveries it is making.

With a record number of papers to be presented this year, the rest of Thursday afternoon was dedicated to the “meat” of our conferences – paper sessions. With a brief break for a group photo and a walk into downtown for dinner, it was then back for evening paper and vendor sessions. By the end of the evening everyone was ready for relaxing and socializing in the hospitality suite or watching a show or two.

Friday morning saw an especially engaging talk by Dr. Julia Plummer. Dr. Plummer has specifically studied education in the planetarium and how elementary students learn through a combination of planetarium field trips and classroom lessons. The rest of the morning was filled with paper sessions. After lunch was the popular Astronomy Update Lecture by Dr. Ron Kaitchuck followed by an afternoon of workshop sessions. With everyone’s heads filled with new ideas to try out at their facility, we headed for our annual banquet and the Spitz Lecture by Susan Reynolds Button.

By Saturday morning the anticipation of hearing from GLPA founder Von Del Chamberlain was on everyone’s mind. After one last paper session, the all important business meeting and a walk to lunch, it was time. Von Del spoke eloquently about the importance of GLPA and how for 50 years it has benefitted hundreds of planetarians and millions of planetarium visitors.

 

NO.
LOCATION
YEAR
PRESIDENT
SECRETARY / TREASURER
52
Flint, Michigan
2016
Dayle Brown
Dan Tell / Cheri Adams
Spitz Lecturer: Gary Sampson
Attendance: To be determined
Dates: October 19 - 22, 2016 2016 Group Photo
Buddy Stark, Todd Slisher, and the staff of the Robert T. Longway Planetarium and Sloan Museum hosted this conference in Flint, Michigan.

The Robert T. Longway Planetarium is really where it all began for GLPA. This was the place where the initial discussions took place between Von Del Chamberlain (Staff Astronomer here at the time), David DeBruyn, and Dennis Sunal (both of whom were students at the University of Michigan and worked at the then Exhibit Museum Planetarium) that led to the eventual formation of the Great Lakes Planetarium Association. It’s fitting that a GLPA conference is finally held in Flint just as the Longway Planetarium has upgraded to the most current state of the art equipment.
 
This conference made use of several of the facilities of the Flint Cultural Center, which is a beautiful campus of museums and theaters adjacent to the campuses of the University of Michigan-Flint and Mott Community College.

The usual opening reception took place Wednesday evening at the Sloan Museum where delegates could wander through the exhibits that outline the history of this area including the establishment of General Motors, and a lot of cool old cars! Flint is known as “The Vehicle City.” After the reception, a short walk across the street to the planetarium was where the first vendor demos took place, then followed with a couple full length shows later in the evening for those interested. The rest of the delegates headed back to the hotel after the demos to relax and network at the first night’s Hospitality Suite.

After Thursday breakfast at the Sloan Museum and the President’s welcome, concurrent paper sessions took place all morning at the Flint Institute of Art. Lunch was there too (in special interest groups if you were so inclined). It was then on to the planetarium for the popular annual Astronomy Update Lecture given once again by our own Dr. Ron Kaitchuck. It was back to work the rest of the afternoon with workshops at the planetarium and across the street at the Flint Institute of Music. The vendors/sponsors were set up at the planetarium so that they were in the middle of constant traffic. Those not attending workshops had all afternoon to talk to vendors. Dinner at the Flint Institute of Art was followed once again by vendor demos in the planetarium and then several full length shows. Of course the Hospitality Suite was available for those who wanted to network with others.
 
After Friday breakfast at the Sloan Museum, one last vendor demo in the planetarium started another busy day. Concurrent paper sessions filled out the rest of the morning until a relaxing lunch at the Flint Institute of Art. Lunch was followed by invited speaker Dr. Richard Bellon with “John Herschel, Charles Darwin, and the ‘Mystery of Mysteries’” in the planetarium. We could relax a little for the rest of the day as we gathered outside the big green dome of the planetarium for a group photo, viewed poster papers and prepared for the fun of the annual GLPA Banquet. The Banquet and awards took place at the Sloan Museum, but the best place for the annual Spitz Lecture was of course the planetarium. Gary Sampson, as the Spitz Lecturer, did a great job inspiring us all. A relaxing end to the evening came with a visit to the Hospitality Suite if you were so inclined.
 
Saturday’s breakfast at the Sloan Museum hopefully started everyone’s engine for one more day of professional development. The day started out with more concurrent paper sessions in the planetarium and the adjacent Bower Theater. It’s wonderful how many people are willing to share with their colleagues. The all important Business Meeting followed in the Bower Theater, where members have the chance to interact directly with the Executive Committee and other committee chairs, and have a say in the workings of GLPA. The closing lunch took place at the Flint Institute of Art where everyone could relax and have fun with door prizes and the closing ceremony. The staff of the Abrams Planetarium in East Lansing promise another great conference next year. We can’t wait! While many people headed back to their home domes, a few took advantage of the optional post conference trip to the Delta College Planetarium in Bay City. There, Mike Murray and his staff showed off their facility, followed by a fun dinner before everyone parted ways.

 

NO.
LOCATION
YEAR
PRESIDENT
SECRETARY / TREASURER
53
Saint Louis, Missouri
2017
Dayle Brown
Dan Tell / Cheri Adams
Spitz Lecturer: David Hurd
Attendance: To be determined
Dates: October 10 - 14, 2017 2017 Group Photo
Anna Green and her colleagues at the Saint Louis Science Center hosted this Pleiades National Planetarium Conference, which brought together all seven U.S. regional planetarium associations to Saint Louis. Additional conference description coming soon.

 

NO.
LOCATION
YEAR
PRESIDENT
SECRETARY / TREASURER
54
East Lansing, Michigani
2018
Geoff Holt
Dan Tell / Cheri Adams
Spitz Lecturer: David Batch
Attendance: To be determined
Dates: October 10 - 13, 2018 2018 Group Photo
Dr. Shannon Schmoll, John French, Shane Horvatin, and the staff of the Abrams Planetarium hosted this conference.

Abrams Planetarium is essentially the “home” of the Great Lakes Planetarium Association. Abrams is the official address of the association for our non-profit designation, and they were the host of the first formal meeting of what would become GLPA.
 
This conference took place on the campus of Michigan State University and made use of several facilities, most notably The Henry Center for Executive Development and Abrams Planetarium. The Henry Center provided most of the hotel space, vendor/sponsor display areas and meeting rooms.
 
The Wednesday Welcome Reception in the Henry Center Atrium included remarks from not only Shannon Schmoll, but also Dr. Steve Zepf, Interim Chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy and Julie Pingston from the Greater Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau. Instead of going to the planetarium this evening, sponsor demos that did not require the dome were presented at the Henry Center. To conclude the relaxing start to this great conference, the Hospitality Suite was available at the end of the evening. The hospitality suites for this conference took place in the Four Seasons Lounge of the Henry Center, making it most convenient for everyone.
 
It was “off we go” on Thursday with breakfast, the President’s Welcome, and concurrent paper sessions all morning at the Henry Center. After lunch there was an opportunity for Special Interest Groups to meet followed by a few more sponsor demos that didn’t require being in the dome. Then after a break it was on to workshops for the rest of the afternoon. Because the Sponsor displays were located in the Henry Center Atrium as were the breaks, sponsors were right in the center of the action as delegates went from place to place. Busses took everyone to Brody Hall for a relaxed dinner before we headed to the planetarium for the evening. Now to the sponsor demos that required the dome, Abrams was ready and the evening was filled with some great product showcases. At the end of the sponsor showcases buses began running back and forth to the Henry Center allowing people to leave for the hotel and Hospitality Suite when they were ready. Delegates could stay for several full show screenings before heading back if they wanted.
 
After breakfast at the Henry Center on Friday, delegates were treated to a special talk and interactive session by Dr. Jessica Garcia from the Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives at MSU. Then it was on to concurrent paper sessions for the rest of the morning. Something new this year was to provide time for State Meetings on Friday rather than Saturday making it easier for more people to attend. This occurred after lunch followed by dedicated Poster Paper viewing time and a run outside for the group photo. Once back in from the photo taking, it was time for the popular Astronomy Update Lecture given once again by Dr. Ron Kaitchuck capping off the afternoon session. Now it was time to relax and prepare for the fun and networking of the annual GLPA Banquet. After dinner and awards, the Spitz Lecture titled “Life Among the Stars” was given this year by Dr. David Batch. This was very appropriate as Dr. Batch spent his entire career at Abrams Planetarium and held the position of Director for the last 30 years before his retirement.
 
Saturday morning was time to leave the Henry Center session rooms for good. Breakfast was served at the Biomedical and Physical Sciences building across the street from the planetarium. Breakfast was followed by concurrent paper sessions until late morning. At that point it was time to gather in the Abrams Planetarium theater for a “Virtual Tour of the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory” presented by Dr. Zachary Constan and Dr. Jaideep Singh from the National Superconducting Cyclotron and Facility for Rare Isotope Beams Laboratory right there on the MSU campus and Catherine Hermanson, MSU Student in Communication Arts and Sciences. It was fascinating and a great use of the planetarium by another campus department. It was then back to the Biomedical and Physical Sciences building for lunch and the very important GLPA Business Meeting. Once serious business was over it was time to relax and head back to Abrams Planetarium one last time. This year a “constellation shootout” got things going followed by storytelling, door prizes and the traditional passing of the banner to next year’s host. Next year it’s on to Toledo for another great GLPA conference!