Educational Programs

The Wayne State University Planetarium and the Office of Outreach in the Department of Physics and Astronomy welcomes you to bring your school group, community organization, or special interest group to our planetarium for an Educational Program. 

With the universe at our fingertips, we instruct and entertain our audiences with our amazing planetarium shows and educational outreach programs!

Keep in-mind, too, that our shows and activities incorporate Michigan State Educational Standards.  What better way to inspire learning than by combining educational curricula with fun activities!

Our planetarium shows include more than just a fulldome film. We begin each one of our shows with an interactive demonstration.  That’s right! You participate! After the lights come down, we continue with the current night sky, and then show your group a fulldome film.

If you want to extend your visit, why not plan a “Science Day” and add our Phantastic Physics Phenomena and/or a Science Activity!
 

Here is a sample of our Interactive Demonstrations, Current Night Sky, and Fulldome Films:

We begin our planetarium shows with Interactive Demonstrations:

  • 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!
  • Learn about the visible spectrum and the discrete spectra of hydrogen and helium. Find out why there is so much red in the Hubble Space Telescope images. Wear cool diffraction glasses and see a rainbow emerge before your eyes!

After the Interactive Demonstration, we continue with the Current Night Sky:

  • Learn how to find constellations (regions of the night sky) and famous star patterns (also called “asterisms”) like the Big Dipper. 
  • Learn how to navigate the night sky by using clever tactics like “arcing to Arcturus.”
  • Learn about “light years” and why this term is actually a measure of distance.
  • See a “stellar nursery;” and, learn about the fate of massive stars.  

Once you have traversed the Current Night Sky, sit back and relax and enjoy a Fulldome Film

  • Learn about the development of the telescope and the discoveries made since the advent of the telescope in Two Small Pieces of Glass.
  • Learn about the birth of the universe and travel back to moments after the Big Bang in Wonders of the Universe.
     

After our Planetarium Show, why not stay for our Phantastic Physics Phenomena:

  • Learn about the principle of the conservation of angular momentum.  Watch, as one of your students is selected to demonstrate the "skater’s spin.” See what happens when she stretches her arms out and what happens as she brings her arms into her chest.  Will she spin faster or slower?
  • See what happens when a beautiful, long stem rose is dipped into a thermos of liquid nitrogen.
  • Marvel at a “fire tornado” and learn about the physics behind this fascinating phenomenon.
     

And if this is not enough, why not add a Science Activity?

Choose from one of the following hands-on activities**:

  • Geology Activity:  Students learn about geology and how it impacts their lives by viewing a dynamic powerpoint presentation. 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!
  • Drawing Activity:  Students learn about the basic shapes used in drawing. Students learn to use these shapes to draw famous “star patterns”  like the Big Dipper, and also draw their associated constellations. In the process, students learn about the night sky.  Recommended for K-3.
  • Paper Plate Activity: To be developed.   

** There is an additional supplies fee per student for science activities. Please contact us for details.

 

OUR PLANETARIUM COMFORTABLY SEATS 59 PEOPLE. If your group exceeds 59, may we suggest that you pair your visit to our Planetarium with the Phantastic Physics Phenomena or a Science Activity ?  While half of your group is in the planetarium, the other half will be watching physics demos or participating in a science activity!