Taylor Planetarium Program Development and Educational Outreach Activities, Museum of the Rockies

PI: James G. Manning, Director, Taylor Planetarium, Museum of the Rockies

[2000] The Museum of the Rockies, with programs and resources in astronomy and space science, links with NASA, and an educational mission with strong science objectives, is uniquely positioned to make an important contribution to aerospace education. This project will use these assets to develop a planetarium program and supporting educational materials to enhance student and public understanding of current space events and discoveries, to advance Space Grant Consortium goals.

Astronomy and space science provide exciting, quickly-changing insights on the cosmos--yet public exposure to these new perspectives is often limited to sound bites or thumbnail articles in the local media. The Museum proposes to increase student/public awareness and understanding of new discoveries and information--and how they contribute to our current body of knowledge--by developing an original, live format program called "The Universe Tonight" which will provide public education on current events and can respond quickly to breaking news. The program will tap into Internet-based NASA resources and local resources on the MSU campus and other venues, and will include informational take-aways. The show will be cultivated in the public mind as a user-friendly resource when space events occur, and the evaluated format will be shared with colleagues in the field.

[1991-1994, 1996, 1998-1999] Planetarium staff produced eight Digistar planetarium programs: "Time Stalkers" journey through time to uncover the astronomical legacy of the clocks and calendars we use every day, culminating with a space-age view of time as relative to one's frame of reference; "Wild Universe" and "Planetbound!" high-energy educational adventures focusing on the solar system and universe beyond as exciting places to explore; "The Dinosaur Chronicles," focusing on contributions of satellites and space-age technology to the understanding of dinosaurs and their earth; "Ages of Discovery," presenting aerospace achievements in the context of the historic human drive to explore; "The Skywatchers," examining the human study of the heavens from ancient observers to the use of modern aerospace technology; "The Final Frontier," a chronicle of mankind's efforts to explore space and "How to Build a Planet" providing a contextual introduction to the Museum´┐Żs Landforms/Lifeforms exhibit and exploring the forces which shaped the Earth and its life, from the perspective of the Earth. Each of these programs have been adapted for use with the Museum's traveling Starlab Planetaria, which travel to precollege schools around the state. Associated educational materials have been developed and teacher workshops have been conducted.


Figure: An example of the DigiStar graphics used in the Taylor Planetarium.

Contact Information

Mail: Mr. James G. Manning, Planetarium Director
Museum of the Rockies
Montana State University
Bozeman, MT 59717
E-mail: manning@montana.edu
Phone: (406) 994-6874
FAX: (406) 994-2682

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Updated June 19, 2006