WSU Outreach

Wayne State University and the Department of Physics and Astronomy are passionate about science education. Through our planetarium shows and outreach activities, we have created a learning environment that is both educational and fun. We provide the inspiration while you are free to explore and discover, for yourself, our amazing and wonderful universe!


About our programs

We present planetarium shows for the WSU community of students, faculty, and staff; K-12 schools; senior citizen groups; scouting groups; special interest groups, and Friday evening planetarium shows for the general public. 

We offer a variety of educational outreach programs that incorporate our Planetarium Shows with our Phantastic Physics Phenomena demonstrations, and hands-on "Science Activities" in partnership with other science departments. 

Our outreach programs include comprehensive astronomy education for grades K-12 aligned with Michigan Science Standards.  Feel free to contact us with your questions and special requests as they relate to your science curricula needs. And visit our K-12 page for detailed information about the programs we offer visiting school groups.

We provide instructional shows for colleges and universities and have incorporated our planetarium shows into the curricula for the WSU undergraduate degree programs in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.


Our planetarium shows

Our planetarium shows consist of three parts: interactive demonstrations, the current night sky, and a full-dome film.

We begin with an interactive demonstration: Learn about "size and distance" in our solar system. Compare the diameters of Earth, our Moon, and Mars, and get a feel for the distances between these celestial objects. We accomplish this with the help of balloons, an inflatable globe, and our visitors!

As the lights go down, we show you how to navigate the current night sky. Find out how to identify constellations and asterisms, planets and other celestial objects.

After learning about the current night sky, sit back and enjoy a full-dome film. We offer a variety of full dome films: Black Holes, Oasis in Space, Stars of the Pharaohs, Two Pieces of Glass, and Wonders of the Universe.


Physics demonstrations

Audiences rave about our Phantastic Physics Phenomena! We present a number of demonstrations, including the "fire tornado."

Watch as one of our physics professors demonstrates the conservation of angular momentum. See what happens when he drops a match in a plate of alcohol and places a long cylinder overtop the fire tornado apparatus. Will a fire tornado appear? Absolutely!  Warning: Do not try this at home! 
 


Hands-on science activities

We have combined our efforts with other science departments to present hands-on science activities.

Students learn about geology and how it impacts their lives. They learn the definition of a "mineral," and how to identify minerals in the field using the classic test, "Mohs Scale of Mineral Hardness." Students will be expected to get their hands dirty!