Our Mission: Passing on a Tradition, a Legacy
After a long history of serving countless students for both high school astronomy courses and the elementary planetarium program, the Manheim Township Planetarium has been completely modernized as part of the high school renovation project. Improvements include a newly fabricated dome, energy-efficient LED lighting, a new sound system, and a state-of-the-art digital projection system. Using the single-fisheye projector and powerful computer processing of the SciDome by Spitz, the dome of the Manheim Township Planetarium becomes a real-time space/sky simulator and presenter of fulldome multimedia shows. This allows audiences to visualize moving through space and time and to observe the workings of the universe. The Manheim Township Planetarium seats 59 people under a 30-foot diameter dome.
Realistic planetarium imagery makes the audience feel as if they are truly outdoors. Whether they be outside the high school, or as far away as stonehenge, ancient Egypt, and Greece to the surface of the moon and Mars. Manheim Township Planetarium will take you on an interactive trip through the universe.
Bringing the Universe to our Students
A planetarium distinguishes a school district that invests in its science and technology program, and its students. Now in our third generatin of planetariums, Manheim Township remains one of only a few school districts that has a planetarium. It is used for astronomy instruction for elementary students; as well as, high school students that enroll in one of two astronomy elective courses. Today, scientific and technological literacy are more important to 21st Century learners than ever before. Every science and technology educational experience is critical to the future success of students in both academic and career endeavors. Thus, as part of the major renovation and expansion of the high school, Manheim Township elected to modernize its planetarium facility and equipment. The new planetarium is a state-of-the-art Spitz Digital SciDome projection system that includes Starry Night software, a new virtually seamless 30-foot dome ceiling, LED trough lighting, and a theatrical sound system.
Due to the high demand for Astronomy: The Sky and the Stars and at the request of students, a second course, Astronomy: The Solar System and The Universe
The elementary program has also been extremely successful. Over the past two years since renovations were complete, fourth and eighth graders have made multiple trips to the planetarium to learn astronomy essentials required by the PSSA.
Alignment to the Standards & PSSA Achievement
It has always been the goal of Manheim Township to continue to provide astronomy instruction to targeted elementary grades, eighth grade students, and high school students. This is not only because of the enriching learning opportunity that this provides, but also to meet standards and prepare students for success on the Science PSSA. There are Pennsylvania Academic Standards that require astronomy instruction including the concepts of planetary motion; motion of the earth, moon and sun that explain a day, month, year, and seasons; the life cycle of stars; objects in the solar system, galaxies, constellations, and the universe. Understanding of these concepts is assessed on the Science PSSA. Because research provides evidence to support the idea that students learn best when they are engaged in firsthand, inquiry based learning experiences, a planetarium is the best place to provide astronomy instruction in the school setting to meet the standards. By doing so, the goal of astronomy education in the planetarium is to increase student interest, understanding, and achievement in science and technology.