A sun-inspired inflatable planetarium that will bring astronomical theater to local schools, youth groups, and geek gatherings.
New Stretch Goal Rewards!
$5300: "Pop Culture Astronomy" Guide (for pledges over $1)
$5600: "Science Fiction on the Moon" Guide (for ALL pledges)
Please see Update #7 for more information!
Kids just love inflatable planetariums; they get to crawl inside a space built just for them, one that has popped up right in their classroom or meeting place to show them the wonders of the sky. Regular classroom disruptions fall away as students become engaged in learning about astronomy in a new and exhilarating way. Kids relate to the fun and interactive medium of a portable planetarium in a manner that no other astronomy instruction can match.
According to the Resource Area for Teaching (RAFT), students retain learning longer when that learning comes from an engaging, hands-on activity. When they are captivated by a unique opportunity such as an inflatable planetarium, they are more likely to share what they've learned with family members and friends, deepening their understanding with each repitition. These activities also transcend language barriers with their visual appeal.
We need more exciting educational activities in order to fight the intellectual apathy so common in our students today (what RAFT calls "the engagement gap")! As the pace of scientific research advances, the average person is faced increasingly with science and technology in his or her daily life. Yet, a study done by the University of Sciences in Philadelphia indicates that American students' interest in science is drastically waning.
My inflatable planetarium offers kinesthetic and visual learning to students who are hungry for stimulation. The wonders of the night sky can be brought right into the classroom! Right here, you have the opportunity to help bring science to life.
Five years ago I was a middle school science teacher working at a Title I school. The school (and its students) had little money for field trips or fancy science equipment, but I longed to find a way to bring Astronomy to life for my seventh graders. Through much trial and error with my crappy sewing machine, I created the magnificent monstrosity you see on my cover photo.
Using a box fan (for inflating) and a $150 "toy" projector from Japan, I've given planetarium shows to thousands of students over the last several years. Even when I left teaching to become a mom and foster parent, I continued to give presentations to schools, youth organizations, and clubs.
To build a bigger, better planetarium! Planetarium 2.0 will be able to fit 30 students instead of 15. It will be made out of more durable fabric. And it will be a golden yellow to represent our Sun! This way, the half-sphere shape of the planetarium serves a second purpose - to be part of a scale model of our Solar System (with the planets being represented by sports balls).
If I were to purchase a boring, black inflatable planetarium from a commercial company in the United States, it would cost at least THREE TIMES as much as my Kickstarter goal! By creating a planetarium myself, I am able to make the planetarium more fun AND more economical.
At one point in my teaching career I had this grand aspiration to make each of my students a book of simple science experiments they could do with their family over the summer. This book turned out to be over 80 pages long and includes all of my favorite experiments to do with kids using common household materials, as well as a loooong list of science fair project ideas, and some of my favorite science websites. This reward comes in the form of a digital copy. (Please note that this is a collection of ideas I gathered over my years of teaching, most of which are NOT my own and I claim no ownership of the ideas or pictures in this book.)
When I found out I have been invited to present at the Phoenix Comicon (one of the largest pop culture events in the world!), I totally geeked out! Not only did I create presentations for my scheduled shows, Harry Potter Astronomy and Star Trek Astronomy, but I also created several more shows for use at future Comicons. I have turned my notes into "guides" for your benefit. Each of these guides includes a labeled star chart, which corresponds to descriptions of your favorite pop culture characters, places, or events that share their name with a certain star or constellation. Imagine going outside on a clear night and using your guide to find the constellation Draco Malfoy was named after, or the star system in which someone stole Spock's brain!
Here is a complete list of the planetarium shows I have created so far:
Anime/Manga (29 constellations, 11 stars)
Dr. Who (10 constellations, 12 stars)
Harry Potter (13 constellations, 8 stars)
Hitchhiker's Guide (8 constellations, 10 stars)
Middle Earth (10 constellations, 5 stars)
Star Trek (22 constellations, 35 stars)
Marvel Comics (23 constellations, 3 stars)
Video Games - includes both console and PC games (33 constellations, 55 stars)
TV/Movies (27 constellations, 34 stars)
Each of these comes in the form of a digital copy. To use the star chart properly you must print it out and you'll need scissors and a small amount of tape/staples to put it together.
I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to do a presentation for you, so I can show off my planetarium! Each presentation is fully customizable to your interests and needs. School presentations cater to the science standards for the grade I am presenting to - not only the science standards, but all cross-curricular standards that may tie into my show. Your show could also be used for a birthday party, science nights, scouts, youth organization, or any other social gathering you might think of! (If you have more than 30 people at your event, add $30 to your pledge for each each extra presentation you want on that same day.)
Similar Science Outreach Programs in Tucson cost $120-$150 each, so $79 is a steal!
If you do not live in Southern Arizona, you can STILL contribute for a planetarium presentation, and the presentation will be given at an organization of your choice! Think urban schools, boy scouts, girl scouts, boys and girls clubs, church functions, fundraisers, YMCA, group foster homes, clubs...the starry sky is the limit! Each presentation will be individually documented in your name, and posted in a Kickstarter update.
I will be available for scheduling every day of the week except Sunday. I anticipate the planetarium to take 3 months to build, so please expect to schedule your planetarium presentation between September 2013 and June 2014. (If you would like to redeem your reward before September I can do a presentation with my old planetarium for you).
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
My first task (which I have already started) is to collect fabric samples and determine which type of fabric will work best for my needs. After ordering the fabric, I will use geometry to determine the measurements for each piece before sewing them together to make the dome shape and tunnels. Afterward, strips of fabric must be glued over the stitching due to the holes the sewing process creates, which lets light into the planetarium. Ultimately, I am confident that since I have created an inflatable planetarium once before, I will be able to navigate my way through the process a second time.
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.