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SEPA: Grossology and You

Grossology and You planetarium show

Morehead Planetarium and Science Center has been awarded a SEPA (Science Education Partnership Award) for the project "Addressing the Science of Really Gross Things: Engaging Young Learners in Biomedical Science Through a Fulldome Show and Supporting Curricula." 

The primary objective of this project is to improve students' understanding of their bodies and their health. The primary audience for this project is students in grades 3-8.

Project Deliverables

The project includes the development of a new fulldome planetarium show based on the popular children's book "Grossology and You." Along with the planetarium show, Morehead will develop complementary curriculum materials for classroom use. The fulldome planetarium show and the curriculum materials will focus on the inner workings of the digestive, respiratory and immune systems.

Many members of the target audience are already familiar with the series of Grossology® books, written by educator Sylvia Branzei-Velasquez and illustrated by artist Jack Keely. These books take a lighthearted approach to the serious science of the human body.

For more than 10 years, an educational exhibit based on the Grossology® books has toured museums around the world. With the expansion of digital technology within the planetarium industry, it is now possible to feature science topics related to health and medicine within the unique fulldome educational environment.

Morehead worked with expert researchers and advisors in science and in education to produce the "Grossology and You" fulldome planetarium show. It is available for lease by other planetariums worldwide. "Grossology and You" won honorable mention for outstanding and innovative productions at the 2015 Jena Fulldome Film Festival.

Accompanying the fulldome planetarium show will be complementary curriculum modules designed for museums and science centers. These curriculum modules will meet the unique needs of programming for summer science camps, Scouts and other youth groups, afterschool sessions and field trips. The curriculum modules wil be available for free download on this website.

In addition, Morehead will produce an interactive web experience that focuses on career opportunities in biomedical sciences, building on student interest in the "Grossology and You" project materials.

Project Launch

The fulldome planetarium show "Grossology and You" was released in fall 2014. Morehead educators also developed a "Grossology and You" activity guide.

Project Leadership

Denise L. Young, Ed.D., is the project director for the fulldome planetarium show and the principal investigator for the associated NIH grant. Young is Morehead's director of education and planning.

Richard Superfine, Ph.D., is the co-investigator for the associated NIH grant. Superfine is the Taylor-Williams Distinguished Professor of physics and astronomy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is a research scientist who has received NIH funding for previous projects.

Listen to this NPR report about Superfine's approach to education.

Several other professionals play leading roles in developing the fulldome planetarium show and the other curriculum materials to be produced by this project:

  • Sylvia Branzei-Velasquez is the author of the book "Grossology and You."
  • Jack Keely is the illustrator of the book "Grossology and You."
  • Samuel Lai, Ph.D.Kay Lund, Ph.D.; and Alisa Wolberg, Ph.D. are a few of the research scientists and educators from UNC and other institutions who will be involved in creating and evaluating all educational materials produced through this project.