Findlay’s Newhard Planetarium: Is It ‘New’ to You?
If you’re interested in teaching and or learning in a unique and fun way, University of Findlay’s Newhard Planetarium could be just what you’re looking for!
A planetarium is typically considered a theatre inside of a dome in which there is a projector that represents astronomy: the sun, moon, stars, planets, et cetera. “Our planetarium here on campus is exceptional because the projector in the dome is digital, therefore, we are able to display any media,” said Steven Wild, Ph.D., assistant professor of physics. “The idea is that we can project things up into the dome for viewers to watch. Typically, it’s items related to astronomy, but we can show all kinds of projections.”
There are many benefits to utilizing the planetarium in educational settings, Wild expressed, “in my teaching the planetarium gives students a different perspective of the solar system, the galaxy, or the universe in general. It helps students to visualize things that they normally wouldn’t be able to as opposed to looking at a picture in a textbook or online. The students are actually able to immerse themselves into the material they are learning.”
Newhard Planetarium seats approximately 50 people and was closed to the public from March 2020 to June 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Wild, before the pandemic, along with Findlay’s students, there were various groups that utilized the University’s planetarium. These groups of planetarium visitors included: church groups, boy scouts, girl scouts, YMCA groups, summer camps, and local elementary to high school aged classes. The planetarium averaged over a couple thousand visitors a year, according to Wild.
Some learning experiences that visitors would take part in at Newhard Planetarium included: Reading Under the Stars, Chemistry in a Box, Stories of Astronomy from Other Cultures, and even a showing about the astronomy of Harry Potter. “The options are really endless with what fun activities we can do in the planetarium,” said Wild.
The planetarium is once again open to the public, with visitors following the University’s COVID-19 safety protocols. Moving forward, Wild hopes that more people get to use the dome for educational purposes. “Overall, it’s a different experience for students and it’s something they get excited about,” he added.
To see Wild speak about the Newhard Planetarium, please visit University of Findlay’s YouTube page to view Wild’s video.