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Grades 9-12 Field Experience Options
Note: Each field experience ends with star tour, highlighting the constellations visible in the current night sky.
Gravity, Galaxies, and the Big Bang (1.5 hours):
From the comfort of their planetarium seat, students’ imaginations are stretched as they take a visually-dynamic journey from everyday Earth out into deep space – and back in time – to the early universe formed shortly after the Big Bang. The view includes the motion of distant galaxies and the composition of matter in the universe - only 5% of which is the “normal” matter we see through our telescopes while the rest is mysterious Dark Matter and Dark Energy. Immersive visualizations enable students to instinctively understand the role of gravity in forming our solar system from a disk of dust and gas and they are riveted as they plunge into a simulation of Earth’s formation and early history. Students absorb key concepts such as how the phenomenal force of 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 on our virtual space ship giving students a dose of just how insignificant we are as we fly from our little blue marble in the Milky Way to view some of the billions of galaxies in the universe. 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.
Global Climate Change(1.5 hours):
Students climb on board our virtual spaceship to see for themselves how the surface of our Earth is one big interdependent set of systems. Imagery captured by numerous satellites envelopes students, enabling them to absorb difficult-to-understand concepts such as the complex interactions among the Sun’s energy input, the atmosphere, and oceans as well as global climate and its dependencies. Students visually explore climate impacts of natural phenomena such as volcanoes and solar variation as well as human-induced impacts. Our virtual spaceship then leaves Earth behind to explore global climates of neighbors in our solar system, which differ greatly from Earth’s. 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 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.