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- Grades 6-8 Field Experience Options
Grades 6-8 Field Experience Options
Note: Each field experience ends with star tour, highlighting the constellations visible in the current night sky.
Seasons, Weather, and Earth's Climate (1.5 hours):
Students’ imaginations are transported from an Earth-based perspective of seasonal variation in the Sun into a virtual spaceship for a space-eye view targeting the causes of seasons. This visual immersion into scientific information enables students to easily grasp complex 3-dimensional aspects of seasonal variation as well as Earth systems ideas targeting concepts such as the Sun’s energy is the primary driver of these systems. Highlighting distinctions between weather and climate, students virtually cruise in Earth’s orbit to explore visualizations of atmospheric and oceanic circulation patterns and their impacts on climate. This exploration includes the show Oasis in Space which tours our solar system for liquid water – a key ingredient for climate and for life. The experience concludes with a short tour of the night sky as we turn our imaginations to what else might be out there.
Gravity and Galaxies (1.5 hours):
Students are captivated as they witness the birth of a solar system through the virtual lens of the planetarium. Immersive visualizations enable them to instinctively understand the role of gravity in forming our solar system from a disk of dust and gas. Students absorb key concepts such as how the phenomenal force called gravity is the “super glue” of the universe, holding objects in orbit as well as continuing to give birth to new stars and solar systems in our ever-expanding universe. This exploration continues as our virtual space ship transports students from our little blue marble throughout the solar system, into the Milky Way, and out of our galaxy to view some of the billions of galaxies in the universe – talk about feeling insignificant! This exploration includes the show Black Holes which explores these voracious gravity wells and their vital role in galaxy formation. The experience concludes with a short tour of the night sky as we turn our imaginations to what else might be out there.
Moon Phases and Scale of the Solar System (1.5 hours):
Beginning by exploring complex 3-dimensional interactions of the Sun, Moon, and Earth to emphasize the cause of moon phases, students experience this phenomenon both from an Earth-based perspective and a space-eye view from a virtual space ship to thoroughly internalize this celestial phenomenon. Understanding of this dynamic interplay is enriched by explorations of causes of solar eclipses (and why they are so rare). Having mastered relationships in our astronomical neighborhood, students are guided into a much larger journey to grasp the scale of our solar system and key interactions within it. From this expanded view of our place in space, minds are stretched further as our virtual spaceship transports imaginations and visual perspectives out beyond our Milky Way galaxy, placing our cozy little solar system in the larger galactic context. And then space really gets big as some of the many billions of other galaxies emerge on the dome. This exploration includes the show Perfect Little Planet which features an alien family touring our solar system for the perfect vacation spot, encountering unique and interesting elements of our solar system along the way. The experience concludes with a short tour of the constellations in the night sky as we turn our imaginations outward.
Schedule a morning 1.5 hour experience, break for a brown bag lunch in the planetarium lobby or outside courtyard, and come back into the planetarium dome for a second 1.5 hour experience.