"Trip Through Space" program for Robinson Planetarium

Educator Name: Dr. Sarah Hanson
School Name: Adrian College

Adrian College asks that the MEEMIC Foundation underwrite Trip through Space, a planetarium show created by Full Dome FX and distributed by Ash Enterprises. Adrian College has purchased new projection equipment for the Robinson Planetarium that utilizes current technological innovations to project video across the full 360 degrees of the dome, called “full dome video.” The goal is to purchase a series of new shows including Trip through Space that utilizes this equipment to provide educational programs for Adrian College astronomy students, K-12 school districts, and the community at large. The new programs will allow Adrian College to improve the astronomy curriculum for Adrian College students and to operate a high-quality planetarium for the educational benefit of the community The Robinson Planetarium is an important educational resource for Adrian College. Students enrolled in astronomy classes use the Planetarium regularly as part of the curriculum. They participate in observational and theoretical studies of the solar system and extra-solar system. The Robinson Planetarium is the only planetarium in Lenawee County, and is a valuable resource for the entire community. Many public and private K-12 school districts, including Adrian, Blissfield, Madison, Clinton, Morenci, Lenawee Christian, Addison, Onsted, Tecumseh, Hillsdale, and Deerfield, regularly schedule educational field trips and programming at the Planetarium, as do parents of home-schooled children. During these visits students learn about topics including stars, constellations, and planets. Likewise, organizations such as the Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, the Hope Community Center, and the Adrian City Parks and Recreation Department have all made use of programming provided by the Robinson Planetarium. Past presentations have included What’s up in the Sky Tonight, Daughter of the Stars, Season of Light, Cowboy Astronomer, Mars Observation and many more. Although these programs have been well received by participants, the programs themselves are growing old and outdated; they lack up-to-date scientific information, and in some cases, are no longer accurate or compatible with the new projection system.

Trip through Space provides an examination of solar system and extra-solar system objects. Using narrative and full dome animations, the show depicts the motions of the Sun, Moon and stars and discusses constellations, each of the planets, galaxies and stellar nebula. This program will enhance lecture material in the Adrian College astronomy class. Additionally, it will be used for K-12 school groups who wish to supplement in-class material. This show, along with others Adrian College plans to purchase, will keep the curriculum up-to-date with new scientific discoveries, topics, and technology in astronomy.
  1. Having updated shows will enhance the Adrian College astronomy course by allowing for a more visual learning experience. Students will be able to “see” concepts taught using full dome video rather than with the traditional two dimensional graphics that programs such as PowerPoint provide. In addition, new shows will impact community youth-related academic programs and events, and enhance community collaboration with the sciences. Updated, new shows are an optimal way for this project to benefit all those in proximity to the College and within the Lenawee County community.
  2. The Adrian College astronomy professor will include learning objectives on course syllabi to reflect the content of the Trip through Space. Course assessment will include items on exams directly related to the experience of viewing the program. Students will demonstrate increased competence in mastery of the content when compared to past students who have not experienced Trip through Space.
    Attendance records will be kept of the groups, including K-12 classes, attending the new programs which will be compared with past attendance records. Adrian College expects to see at least a 20% increase in the number of community attendees at Planetarium shows.
  3. Groups, such as K-12 classes and scouting groups, attending Planetarium shows are surveyed to gather feedback from group leaders about the usefulness, effectiveness, and quality of the programs presented. An evaluation of the shows alignment with K-12 standards, where applicable, is included in the survey. Area K-12 educators who bring students to the Robinson Planetarium shows will also be asked to identify how the experience is being used in their science curriculum.
  4. The Boy Scout Southeast Michigan printed badge description will identify a trip to a Robinson Planetarium show as a major component of badge completion.