Southworth Planetarium Becomes a Full Dome Experience

The implementation of this system, which is based on a high-definition projector, hemispherical mirror, computers and software, was made possible through a grant from the National Institutes of Health obtained by Dr. Monroe Duboise, professor of Virology here at USM. Through the project called NanoDiscovery Labs, which includes Duboise Laboratory personnel and planetarium staff, we’ve spent the past year building and testing the system, as well as acquiring and preparing fulldome content.    

The Full Dome show is all digital and encompasses the entire dome, providing audiences with a visual experience not even possible at IMAX theaters. Whereas an IMAX theatre presents a show on a mammoth screen in front and around the sides, the full dome show is above and around you. Our full dome system complements our traditional sky-based programming with immersive 360-degree digital content.

Through this immersive medium, we seek to complement education standards with a rich sensory experience that brings unseen worlds to life, at scales from galaxies in the universe down to individual atoms and everything in between. By creating an informative and exciting experience, we hope to get more kids interested in science, both at school and as a potential career choice.

Two shows have been digitaly rendered for optimal viewing using the new full dome projection system. We have also included curriculum guides for each of the shows so that teachers can integrate what they have learned into their classrooms . The two shows, Two Small Pieces of Glass, and IBEX: Search for the Edge of the Solar System, come to us from the National Science Foundation and NASA, respectively.

Show # 1: Two Small Pieces of Glass
Two children attend a star party and discover the wonders of the Universe as seen through telescopes. They also learn the science and history of telescopes to learn how these instruments have expanded our view on the Universe.

icon Two Small Pieces of Glass - Curriculum Guide


Show # 2: IBEX: The Search for the Edge of the Solar System
The IBEX (Interstellar Boundary EXplorer) surveys the solar system's periphery. Where does the solar system end? Or, what are the boundaries of the heliosphere: where the interstellar gases repel the solar wind Experience one of the most visually rich and stimulating programs as we soar through the solar system in search of its boundaries.

icon IBEX - Search for the Edge of the Solar System - Curriculum Guide

Collaborations

Yale Peabody Museum

The Science Education Partnership Award program at University of Southern Maine (funded by NIH grand R25 oD 010937 and directed by S. Monroe Duboise, Associate Professr in the Department of Applied Medical Sciences) focuses on Micro- and Nano-space Explorations of Health and Disease, provides Professional Development Institutes of K-12 teachers and classroom outreach, and is currently sponsoring the traveling exhibit produced by the Yale Peabody Museum entitled Solving the Puzzle: Lyme Disease, West Nile Virus & You.  This informative exhibit is being displayed through July in the first floor gallery of Glickman Library on the USM Portland campus. It provides a look into the effects of reforestation and suburban expansion into forested areas that have contributed to the emergence of these vector-borne diseases. There are teacher resources related to the exhibit and details of the exhibit http://archive.peabody.yale.edu/explore/solving-the-puzzle/home.html.

icon Sponsoring the traveling exhibit produced by the Yale Peabody Museum entitled Solving the Puzzle: Lyme Disease

ASSET Program - Cornell University

Micro-Evolution: This lab provides a rare opportunity for students to address evolution and natural selection with a hands-on experiment that can be completed in less than two weeks. The experiment utilizes Pseudomonas fluorescens, a common, nonpathogenic saprophyte that colonizes soil, water and plant surface environments and Tetrahymena thermophila to demonstrate diversifying selection in response to predator: prey interaction. The basic lab can be expanded to compare resource competition and predation as driving forces behind adaptive radiation. Students observe predator-driven real time evolution in a micro-environment in a week. In the presence of a Tetrahymena predator they see clear phenotypic changes in bacterial growth pattern and niche formation in liquid culture, and related changes in bacterial colony formation on agar plates. The type of colony made is dependent on where the bacteria live in the liquid culture – on the surface, in the middle, or on the bottom.

a NIH Science Education Partnership Award project

In this project virology, microbiology, immunology, physics, astronomy and educational expertise are being brought together to allow us to stand at the visible world interface between invisible worlds that can only be made visible with the proper tools for observation and analysis. Edwin Hubble, the American astronomer, observed that: “Equipped with our five senses - along with telescopes and microscopes and mass spectrometers and seismographs and magnetometers and particle accelerators and detectors sensitive to the entire electromagnetic spectrum - we explore the universe around us and call the adventure science.”.

Read more: a NIH Science Education Partnership Award project

Additional information