One of the perks about working with Mobile Ed is you see a LOT of America! Sadly most of the time it is just through your windshield because there is no time to stop and “see the sights”.
You are headed to your next school hours (sometimes days) away and no time to stop and smell the roses. This weekend was one of those rare times when schedules allowed me to take in something I had wanted to do for some time but finding them is rare and the time to see them is even rarer. A stationary planetarium. I have been enjoying presenting Mobile Ed’s SkyDome, a giant portable planetarium, and have been thrilled with the student and faculty’s overwhelming response to this big silver monster as they enter their gym. It looks like a huge space ship has landed or at least the worlds biggest igloo.
At almost 40 feet in diameter and 16 feet tall the students “oooh” and “awww”, jump, squeal, and scream with delight as their eyes get big as saucers in anticipation for what adventure is ahead. They are never disappointed with this state of the art, all digital, experience inside the giant dome. I enjoy doing the 5 or 6 presentations each day for the elementary and middle schools and they always give it a big thumbs up and a 10 on the cool level.
I had visited a museum planetarium when I was in elementary school and remember how cool it was and the sense of awe I was left with. That spurred an interest in astronomy and I asked for a telescope for Christmas.
I spent many nights gazing at the moon, rings of Saturn, and Venus and Mars. Over the years I have always kept up with current events in astronomy and the space program. And I still have that same telescope. I plan to pass it on to my granddaughter soon.
I was in Wichita, KS this week and heard about the Planetarium and Space Museum in Hutchinson, KS only 50 miles away, so I took my Saturday off and headed to the Cosmosphere located on the grounds of Hutchinson Community College. From its humble beginnings in 1962 it has grown to one of the most popular Space Science Museums in the country. The website cosmo.org will tell you about the extensive features offered there. An entire day can easily be filled with all the exciting things to see and do there.
I was a bit limited on time so I bought tickets to the planetarium and the Dr. Goddard Lab science show. It was very enjoyable and educational and the entire grounds were topnotch with many displays of space artifacts and walls and murals filled with pictures and information.
The main reason I went was to do a comparison of a stationary planetarium and the portable one that I tour with for Mobile Ed. I was pleasantly surprised and how we stand up to the big brother stationary unit. First, I discovered the dome isn’t that much larger than ours. The graphics were high tech with a tad more realism to the sky but that made the stars and planets smaller, fainter, and harder to see maybe more true to the actual night sky. They were able to do some nice animated graphics that I really enjoyed along with music.
An obvious plus was comfortable chair seating that reclined. The chairs were set in rows theater style which faced one way. That made me think if you were in the front row you may not be able to take in the entire dome like you would if you were seated in a circle like we do with our portable. We seat up to 90 students and teachers (and at times have had even a few more) and I don’t think the permanent could have seated many more than that.
Mobile Ed’s presentation has a balanced mix of traveling through our solar system, learning about our space program, and the constellations and Greek Myths behind the constellations and an exciting meteor shower at the end. There is also a mixture of humor and storytelling throughout the presentation with the ability to make it age and grade appropriate. Even though I thoroughly enjoyed the permanent planetarium and all that Cosmosphere had to offer and would highly recommend it to anyone from 6 to 106, I also walked away with total confidence and satisfaction that Mobile Ed’s SkyDome Planetarium experience was at least equal and, in my opinion, maybe a bit more fun and educational than its big brother.
When you factor in the idea of it being in house thus less the travel costs, no individual ticket price, safety and security of it being housed inside your school, with fewer chaperones or personnel, no buses or drivers and our state of the art equipment and personable presenters, I think schools are given much more bang for their buck.
Invite Mobile Ed’s SkyDome Planetarium to your school and it will be the topic of conversation for many days following and an experience that will create memories for life! Who knows what future scientists, space travelers, or astronomers will be inspired to follow their dreams to the stars!