A mobile planetarium tour introduces kids to science, math – and new cultural connections.
The Growing Up Great Together Under One Big Sky tour travels to places where children might not otherwise have the opportunity to visit a planetarium. Inside the portable inflatable dome, children ages 4 to 6 are dazzled by a special planetarium show – “One World, One Sky: Big Bird's Adventure” – created by Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind Sesame Street® and its partners, with major support from the PNC Foundation. Through the lens of astronomy, kids join Elmo, Big Bird and Hu Hu Zhu, a Muppet from the Chinese co-production of Sesame Street, as they explore the night sky and take an imaginary trip from Sesame Street to the moon.
The sense of wonder inside the dome is contagious. Children settle in on carpet squares, singing and counting along with Big Bird and gasping as shooting stars streak overhead.
Their reactions are as unique and varied as stars in the sky. One child remarked, “ Mom, did you know that the sun is a star? We can sing ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’ during the day now!” Another requested a repeat trip because “I want to take a nap on the moon.” One student even decided to build rocket ships someday.
Each child receives a trilingual daytime/nighttime activity poster – featuring English, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese – with reusable glow-in-the-dark stars and vocabulary-building activities so the learning can continue at home. Area teachers receive an astronomy-based curriculum to incorporate in their classrooms before the dome arrives and after it departs.
In 2015, three exhibits toured early childhood education centers and other organizations in 34 PNC markets in 16 states and the District of Columbia. During that time, approximately 18,000 students attended the planetarium show.
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