Planning a School Day Visit

Program Blocks

A program block is the amount of time we spend with a class or group of students and generally consists of the following:

  • Introduction 
    An overview of the exhibits, planetarium, telescopes (if any) and any science demonstrations.
  • Planetarium Program
    Live night sky tours and full dome shows.
  • Exhibits
    Students are free to browse the exhibits under supervision of their teacher and SkyDome staff.
  • Telescope (if applicable)
    Students go outside in small groups to look at objects in the sky.
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Setting Block Lengths (45mins. - 2 hours)

The length of each block is determined by the school and can last from 30 minutes to 2 hours. 

  • Recommended block lengths:
    > Kindergarten – 2nd Grade: 30 minutes
    > 3rd & higher: 1-2 hours (minimum 45 minutes)
  • Allowing Enough Time
    Most schools want as many students as possible to experience the planetarium, which we understand.  Please bear in mind however that by rushing students through the program, it can take away from and shorten the quality of the experience for any one student.  We recommend focusing on 1 or 2 grades and giving them the maximum amount of time possible.  Consider making it an experience for a select grade(s), giving upcoming students something to look forward to when they reach that target grade. For example, each year 3rd graders get to go through. That said, we’re happy to be flexible to meet your situation. 
  • Telescope Time
    Daytime telescope viewing is provided by request. To allow enough time for the planetarium and exhibits, plus the telescope viewing, block lengths must be at least 1 hour or more.
Setting the Start Time

Whether lodging will be required the night prior to our visit will depend on the start time for your first block and the travel time to your location.  If the start time for your first block is later than 7:30am + travel time from Greenbrier an overnight stay will generally not be needed. 

  1. 7:30am is based on a 6:30am departure from Greenbrier + 1 hour setup time when we arrive
  2. For example:
    1. A school in Little Rock is a 60 minute drive.  7:30am + 60 minute drive means a start time for the first block as early as 8:30am
    2. A school in Texarkana is a 2h 30m drive. 7:30am + 2:30 means a start time for the first block at 10am. An earlier start time would require an overnight stay and lodging fee.
Students per Block
  • Maximum Students per Block: 50
    The planetarium can accommodate up to 50 students, thus we recommend a maximum of two classrooms per block. 
  • Spaced Out
    While we try to offer flexability to meet your situation (i.e. we could accommodate 51 or 52 students), please keep in mind the planetarium has a limited amount of space.  By adding more students than the maximum recommendation, seating becomes tighter and less comfortable in the dome which can take away from the learning experience and increase discipline issues.
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  • Space
    The planetarium requires a large indoor space at least 25′ x 25′ (i.e. gym, cafeteria, activity room) that has a 14′ ceiling.  We also need access to a standard 120v electrical outlet to power the equipment.
  • Tables
    Host school will need to have 8-10 tables available for us to display the exhibits on.  Most schools provide standard folding tables, but we’ve also used stages, blechers, etc.  
  • Setup Time
    SkyDome presentors will need to arrive about an hour prior to the program to setup the equipment.  Take down usually takes about 30 minute. 
  • Lunch / Dinner (Where Applicable)
    When developing the schedule please allow 45mins. to an hour for SkyDome presentors to leave the school to get lunch.  If the school would like to provide lunch for the presentors, so they don’t have to leave, lunch can be as short as 30 mins.
  • Schedule
    Please have a printout of the day’s schedule available for SkyDome host . 
Volunteer Docents
  • Students
    Do you have a group of older students (10 or fewer) – perhaps GT or students with a science interest – that can serve as docents?  We can assign student docents to help explain one of our many exhibits to their classmates as they visit the exhibits.  This is an opportunity for docents to learn more about the displays and gain a valuable experience as they teach their fellow classmates. The following stations are available if you’d like docents to research them prior to our visit:
    • Apollo / Mercury Programs
    • Tesla Coils / Electricity
    • Meteorites / Petrified Wood
    • Airplanes / Science of Flight
    • Scale of Solar System / Milky Way Galaxy
  • Parents
    Parent volunteers, while not necessary, are also welcome to help with the exhibits and student traffic.
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Student docents sharing the exhibits with their classmates.
Selecting Planetarium Programming
  • Live Sky Tours – These are the primary focus of our visit, as we want to share and encourage the students to explore the current night sky.  Depending on grade and other programming, these last from 10-20 minutes. Unless otherwise necessary these will be included in each block.
  • Full Dome Movies – In addition to the live sky tour, we offer a selection of professionally produced full dome planetarium shows. These are the same types of shows offered in the largest planetarium in the world and are a great addition to our visit. As you develop a schedule for the day you can add / change the shows you are interested in.  Please be mindful of the run time as you develop the schedule. There is no extra charge for these shows.

– Let students see real astronomical objects in the daytime sky! Drives home the fact they are still there even during the daytime. 

  • GPS TELESCOPE – This is a 9.25″ telescope that uses GPS satellites so it can find objects in the daytime sky.  The moon, Venus, Jupiter and several of the brightest stars are visible weather permitting.  If you’re holding an evening event, this telescope (depending on light pollution) can show students the moon, planets, and deep space wonders.
  • SOLAR TELESCOPE – This is a telescope specifically designed to allow students to safely look directly at the surface of the sun.  We only make this option available to students 5th grade or older.  Students need to be old enough to understand the dangers of looking at the sun prior to using this telescope.
  • LOGISTICS – Telescope(s) need to be setup in a semi-secure area just outside where the planetarium is setup.  We generally take small groups of 3-5 students at a time (while the others explore the exhibits) outside for a look through the telescope after the planetarium presentations.  It usually takes 10-15 minutes to cycle through all of the students.  Between blocks and during the planetarium programs the telescope is left alone outside, so it needs to be setup in an area where it won’t be bothered between programs.
Student Supervison and Discipline
  • At no time during the visit can SkyDome personnel take responsibility for students.  A teacher or school official must be present at ALL TIMES.
  • At least 1 teacher or responsible school official must accompany students into the SkyDome Planetarium to supervise students and handle any discipline issues.
  • The SkyDome projection equipment, dome, and exhibits are very expensive and some items are irreplacable. In order to make sure they can be enjoyed by as many students as possible into the future, we reserve the right to end all programming and dismiss a student or group of students if they exhibit any conduct that is or could be harmful to the equipment, exhibits or other attendees.