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Star Turn for Middle School Students

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Education posts

Create a Space Show in Digital Universe Flight School. © AMNH

Imagine creating your very own Space Show and then seeing it presented on the dome of the Hayden Planetarium. That’s the thrill in store for a select group of 20 middle school students who participate in the Museum’s first-ever Digital Universe Flight School this February.

Over the course of one week, 6th-, 7th-, and 8th-grade students will discover how to navigate to planets in the solar system and beyond using the Museum’s Digital Universe Atlas, a three-dimensional, scientifically accurate map of the cosmos, and learn about how the atlas is built. As a final project, students will use sophisticated gaming laptops to create a digital tour to their favorite spot of the universe—Mars, a nebula, the spiral galaxies—which will be shown in a special evening program in the Hayden Planetarium on Friday, February 24.

Taught by an earth scientist and an astrophysics teacher, the course will run from 9 am to 4 pm from Monday, February 20, through Friday, February 24, a schedule that coincides with the New York City public school midwinter break. (The program will be repeated from July 9 to 13 to give the same chance to students whose break falls at a different time.)

The fee is $500, and applications are due February 1. To apply, students must submit a recent report card and an essay. “We’re asking kids to really think about why they would be interested,” says Siva Ramakrishnan, manager of the Museum’s Adventures in Science program. Ramakrishnan says she was inspired to develop the program after learning to “fly” with the Digital Universe software herself.  “I don’t have an astrophysics background,” she says.  “And I thought, if I can learn this, then kids can learn this and, in doing so, learn about how the Museum visualizes data using amazing software.”

Not that it’s not a challenge. Says Ramakrishnan, from her own experience, “Landing on a planet is not easy!”

For more information, click here.

A version of this story originally appeared in the Winter issue of Rotunda, the Member magazine.

The Museum’s Youth Initiatives are generously supported by the leadership contribution of 
the New York Life Foundation.