March 17, 2011

The Bell Museum and MN Regional Planetarium Network

In 2006, the Minnesota Planetarium Society (MnPS) worked with The Elumenati to pilot and implement a prototype GeoDome Theater, as the first portable outreach dome running Uniview. Coined the ExploraDome by the MnPS, this popular outreach dome has now reached over 120,000 students and other learners in Minnesota schools. Today, the ExploraDome program is managed by the Bell Museum of Natural History at the University of Minnesota. The MnPS and now the Bell Museum have built a successful business model, generating revenue through business sponsorships and direct fees. This “little planetarium that could” was recently ranked the 4th best planetarium in the US by Listosaur.com.

Joel Halvorson and Sally Brummel guide this effort, and they have been instrumental in pushing the interactive use of Uniview as a tool for teaching and learning. They have also been working with colleagues around the world to develop the use of  networked domecast presentations, and have worked closely with NASA GSFC in the development of Earth science applications.

The ExploraDome is the founding partner of the Minnesota Regional Planetarium Network, a mix of fixed and portable GeoDome systems running Uniview, sharing costs and program development. These sites include GeoDome Evolvers at Mayo High School, Mankato East High School, Como Elementary, Minnesota State University Moorhead, Southwest Minnesota State University, University of Wisconsin River Falls; GeoDome Theaters at the University of North Dakota, and The Journey Museum; and a GeoDome Portal at Jackson Middle School Observatory.