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Traveling Flandrau shows bring heavens to you

Citizen Staff Writer



If your school or organization can’t take your kids to Flandrau Science Center to see the stars, Flandrau can bring the stars to them.

Starting June 1, Flandrau will start sending traveling planetarium shows to schools and youth organizations.

The shows will display a virtual night sky, bringing the planetarium to the classroom.

“It’s unique because we’re using digital planetarium technology to enhance many of the shows with dynamic content and real space images, including data from University of Arizona research programs,” said Jennifer Fields, associate director for education at Flandrau.

“In general, with the decision by the administration to close the Flandrau facility on campus, we are moving to a stronger outreach presence in the community.”

The program is designed primarily for K-8 students, but can be used by day-care facilities and other organizations that have programs for kids, such as the YMCA.

“We just started offering and promoting these programs so we don’t know how many organizations will sign up, but we have already begun getting inquiries about the programs,” Fields said.

The Flandrau Center follows state science standards so its programs mesh with a teacher’s curriculum.

They are designed not merely as a teaching tool, but also as a way to get children excited about astronomy.

Matthew Wenger, a graduate associate at Flandrau, said there is no better place for children to learn about astronomy. He describes Tucson as the astronomy capital of the U.S. and maybe the world.

“Tucson has beautiful, dark skies compared to other cities its size,” Wenger said. “We also have so many clear nights that stargazing is an easy hobby to get into.”

There are five different shows: “Little Sky Show,” “There’s No Place Like Space: All About Our Solar System,” “Follow the Drinking Gourd,” “Constellations” and “Seasons.”

The first three, designed for younger children, are 20 minutes long. “Constellations” and “Seasons,” for older students up to eighth grade, are 50 minutes long.

Flandrau requires a minimum order of two shows. The shorter shows cost $100 for the first show and $50 for the second. The longer shows cost $175 for the first show and $75 for the second.

All shows are designed for about 15 to 20 students. The traveling planetarium system requires a 15-by-20-foot area and a minimum ceiling height of 10 feet.

If a classroom isn’t big enough or if the teacher wants to accommodate more students, the shows can be put on in a school’s auditorium.

For more information

• Call or e-mail astronomy coordinator Mike Terenzoni.

• E-mail: miket@ns.arizona.edu

• Phone: 626-3646

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