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Announcing Morehead’s next fulldome production project

BY DENISE YOUNG

I just got the go-ahead to share a secret I’ve been dying to tell for quite a while: Morehead Planetarium and Science Center has just started production of a fulldome planetarium show based on the popular children’s book “Grossology and You!”

Many children and teachers are already familiar with the “Grossology” book series –- I know I used these books in my classroom. The concept is brilliant. The books’ author, Sylvia Branzei-Velasquez, a teacher herself, takes all the gross stuff that kids just love -- snot, blood, poop and more –- and turns them into teachable moments. For example, scrapes and scabs become an opportunity to teach about how the body fights infection. Snot becomes an opportunity to introduce the vital role of mucus in our lungs and throughout our bodies. Jack Keely’s fun illustrations keep it all from getting too gross for anyone.

We’ve been wanting to do a human body and health planetarium show for quite a while, and this project just seemed like the right opportunity at the right time. With the change in our planetarium technology to fulldome digital, the opportunity to branch out beyond astronomy and space science is now possible. In fact, with fulldome technology we can use the dome to immerse people in any environment that has some space to it.

Expect that the new show will involve some travel inside human body organs. This gives new meaning to “learning from the inside out!”

This project is made possible through generous support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) SEPA (Science Education Partnership Award) program. NIH has long been a supporter of innovative science education programs.

We will be working with Sylvia, Jack and several others to produce this show. UNC researchers Dr. Rich Superfine, Dr. Kay Lund, Dr. Alisa Wolberg, Dr. Ric Boucher and Dr. Sam Lai will provide scientific oversight. Educators from North Carolina and beyond will help ensure that the show and curriculum materials we develop will really appeal to students and align to national curriculum standards. And, of course, our award-winning production department will bring it all together to create a one-of-a-kind educational experience!

Several of the other educational shows we’ve produced, including Earth, Moon and Sun, Magic Tree House Space Mission and Solar System Odyssey, have been leased by planetariums throughout the US and around the world. Grossology and You is sure to be another favorite. We look forward to sharing it with you in early 2014.