Planetariums as Conduits

to NASA’s Target Audience


Who:       24 planetarium educators from across the nation and 12 NASA educators from multiple NASA centers.

Where:  NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, OH

When:  January 27-28, 2005

Key Goals & Objectives: 

To generate strategies on how NASA and planetariums can help each other achieve their respective goals to increase understanding of and interest in earth & space science, and technology. 

Lessons Learned: 

·       NASA and the planetarium community each have much to learn about what the other offers and of the constraints in which each operates.

·       NASA and the planetarium community have existing infrastructures, capabilities, and programs in place that, conjoined, can greatly amplify the impact on our common, targeted audiences.

·       Effective, ongoing communication in a variety of forms and channels between NASA and the planetarium community would significantly advance the goals of both parties.


The focus group participants identified the strengths and potentials of NASA and of the planetarium community; generated seven strategies by which NASA and the planetarium community could advance their respective missions; and collectively prioritized future joint actions.  The top four strategies are:

1.   Jointly draft a roadmap to develop annual themed programs based on NASA missions, astronomical & space events, or anniversaries.

2.   Establish a liaison or single-point-of-contact method for NASA/Planetarium collaborations;

3.   Combine features of NASA Explorers Schools and Solar System Ambassador Programs into a planetarium-specific program;

4.   Engage formal educators for the development and implementation of pre- and post-visit materials.

Unanticipated outcome:  So many noteworthy ideas were generated within subgroups that the merits of each could not be fully conveyed to the larger group in such a short time.  Many of the notions raised in brainstorming sessions are smaller actions, yet these valuable ideas would yield favorable results with minimal (if any) investment.  We encourage NASA reviewers to peruse the suggestions that were not developed fully.

Website: For a list of the focus group managing team, all participants, all strategy details, all ideas generated, and the Final Report, please see our website at:

Why Planetariums?  

·       Planetariums are on the front line of astronomy education in their respective communities;

·       The educational goals of planetariums dovetail intimately with NASA’s educational goals;

  • Planetariums attract nearly 30 million people annually in the United States;  
    (Source: Tallying the World’s Planetarium Attendance, Mark Peterson, Loch Ness Productions, March 9, 2005)

·       The planetarium community has an organized structure for implementing astronomy education programs;

·       Planetariums are often a first stop for local media seeking information on astronomy news;

·       Planetarians have a passion for their work;

·       A NASA/Planetarium relationship is symbiotic to the benefit of both parties.

·       The planetarium community has already drafted a course of action in the focus group Planetarians as Conduits to NASA’s Target Audience.



It is What it Could Be

                   by Patty Seaton (1/16/05)

A website with lessons
to find on your own,
with a few scattered pictures
of things quite unknown.

When new probes are launching,
you might hear a "Cool."
Yet it's all but forgotten
the next day in school.

We link to the website
to view after the show,
but the interest is waning
Before the guests even go.

Yet then there are workshops,
and the teachers catch on,
going back to their classrooms
Singing space science songs.

Re-enact Venus Transits
beneath a domed starry sky
open free to the public
and hear contended sighs.

Poems with pictures
limit science geek-speak,
leaving minds filled with questions
that for answers now seek.

You have the knowledge;
We have the stars.
Together, in new ways,
We'll take young minds far!


(Sung to the tune of “On Wisconsin”)

Courtesy of Gary Sampson


Onward NASA, onward NASA
Keep those acronyms!
On to Mars, back to the moon,
These are not just whims.

Need some dollars, Congress hollers,
Oops, we’re short again.
We report: There’s no support,
Who will help us win?

Domes are out there, domes are out there,
Lots of people there,
They can help us, they can help us,
And they really care.

Now let’s do it, now let’s do it,
Go out for a win.
Fight, fellows, fight, fight, fight,
We’ll bring the public in!

Photos from the Focus Group

Return to Planetariums as Conduits to NASA's Target Audience focus group home page.

Copyright ©2003-2008 Chuck Bueter.  All rights reserved.