Space News - Carnegie Science Center, Buhl Planetarium

Pittsburgh, PA

 

Overview

Carnegie Science Center’s Buhl Planetarium “Space News” is a 10-minute planetarium pre-show experiences that utilize live, theatric demonstrations and supporting flat screen Keynote presentations. Segments end with a short full dome segment, transitioning into the planetarium show. An energetic planetarium staff presents “Space News” segments that include current news as a springboard to raise awareness about tools and discoveries in astrophysics. Individual segments are themed to particular topics, such as exoplanets or the expanding universe.

 
 

Goals

  1. Inspire future scientists and scientifically engaged citizens.

  2. Respond quickly and nimbly to astronomy news, serving our community as a trusted voice for clear, correct and accessible science content.

  3. Teach visitors about ongoing NASA research in astrophysics, as we strive to understand how the universe works, cosmic origins, and the exploration of exoplanets as we search for life in the universe.

Audience

Space News segments are created for the general public with a target audience of elementary school age children and their families. However, three space news segments were later brought together in Spring 2019 during SciTech School Days, a special week of middle and high school field trips, with successful results.

Recommendations for future implementations

Through various iterations, it was discovered that demonstrations paired with flat-screen visuals were a great way to start things off for 10-15 minutes, and then kick things over to planetarium Starflight and full dome visuals for the second portion of the program as the "grand finale". Of the hands-on demos, those activities that engaged the entire audience worked best. It is recommended to use a FLIR thermal imaging camera to talk about infrared observations. The program also had good audience response adapting the NISE Exoplanet Demonstration into a stage demonstration that involved the audience in Q&A.