Discovering the Universe Traveling Museum
This exhibit is a traveling outreach program that serves schools and community groups in the Suffolk and Nassau County area. It is designed to bring unique educational experiences beyond our Planetarium programs. The traveling museum consists of several stations that offer hands-on interactive exhibits that engage visitors in different topics. While each station is a self-contained module, a single underlying theme connects the information and ideas offered throughout the exhibition. This unifying thread is an examination of how astronomers acquire knowledge about the Universe. Each module presents a different part of the process of obtaining information. The educational modules within this museum are Light, Telescopes, Digital Imaging, The 3-D Universe and Gravity.
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The Light station explains how light contains information about distant objects and shows how this information can be decoded.
The Telescope station introduces the basic tool astronomers use to collect light and shows why telescopes are superior to human eyes as light-gathering tools.
The Digital Imaging station shows how images recorded by telescopes can be stored, analyzed, and enhanced by computers.
The 3-D Universe station shows how astronomers create three-dimensional maps that help them visualize the universe and let them "fly" through simulated 3-D space.
The Gravity station explores how gravity, weight, "weightlessness," and orbits are produced by a universal force that shapes the structure and motions of all the objects astronomers study.
A Walk Through the Exhibition
The following is a brief outline of the concepts introduced in the exhibition, with a few samples of what visitors will encounter as they walk through the Moveable Museum.
- Astronomers use light to identify the objects in the cosmos and determine their distance and composition. This station introduces visitors to the full range of light in the electromagnetic spectrum: visible light, radio waves, microwaves, infrared and ultraviolet light, X rays, and gamma rays. By comparing a photograph of spectral lines emitted by a distant nebula to the patterns associated with known elements, visitors can see how scientists decode light from distant objects to discover their chemical composition. An infrared camera activity allows visitors to see images created when a detector processes a common form of "invisible" light radiating from their own bodies.
- To understand how different wavelengths of light reveal different kinds of information, visitors to the Moveable Museum can examine actual images of regions of space created by five different telescopes. They can see what the Horsehead Nebula looks like when viewed through a radio telescope, a microwave telescope, an infrared telescope, a visible-light telescope, and an X-ray telescope. Interactive software lets visitors access information about the specific telescopes that created the images. They can also experiment with changing the aperture of a small telescope to see how image quality is related to the quantity of light gathered.
- Digital Images:
- An interactive software program called Hands-On-Universe lets visitors combine, subtract, and manipulate digital images just as astronomers do. Using this program, visitors can observe the structure of a galaxy, find the lesser-known moons of Jupiter, or even search for near -Earth asteroids.
- 3-D Universe:
- This station provides an interactive introduction to 3-D imaging of our Solar System. It lets visitors take a virtual 'cruise' through space and view our Solar System from vantage points all over the Universe.
- The Moveable Museum uses a variety of interactive computer animations to explore the concept of gravity. Visitors can simulate launching a satellite into orbit using a pinball-machine-style plunger. By varying the amount of force, the user can send the satellite plummeting to Earth, hurtling into space, or into a stable orbit. The classic "our weight on other worlds" is modified here to let visitors see how changing Earth's mass and volume would affect weight. Using NASA's Toys in Space video and interactive software, visitors can explore the effects of weightlessness as astronauts live, work, and even play in space.
Each station can be further broken down into concepts with simple activities. For example the three main ideas presented in the light section are:
- Most light is invisible to our eyes
- Light is a streaming "code" that tells about the chemical composition of its source
- Light from a glowing object can reveal its temperature
Some of the activities that we can use in this section are:
- Detecting UV light with uv detecting beads
- Separating white light into colors by using rainbow glasses and prisms.
The students will receive a "Discovering the Universe" observer's notebook. This notebook will be divided into the five stations with a series of questions for each station. A teacher may want to emphasize 2 out of the 5 stations so a program will be customized to fit these needs yet the students can still visit all 5 stations on the bus.
Planning Your Trip
$9.00 per student for 1 1/2 hour program, teachers are free
Minimum of $250.00 per school trip
Fuel surcharge may be added depending on location of school.
A $25 deposit is due 30 days after booking your trip to secure the reservation. The balance is required 30 days prior to your visit or the reservation will be cancelled. The deposit will be refunded if the trip is cancelled 90 days prior to the trip date. Program fees can be paid by check or major credit card. Purchase orders referencing the date of visit, reservation number and number of participants should be mailed or faxed directly to the museum office at 631 854-5527
Please mention any special needs you may have when you make your reservation. Our bus has a wheelchair lift on it.
Since the bus can only hold 15 students plus teacher, the following is the logistics of the program:
||In-class presentation with whole class present
||Class is split into 2 groups
||Group A and Group B
||Group A visits Traveling Museum
||Group B remains in classroom
||Group A returns to classroom
||Group B visits Traveling Museum
- All class visits begin INSIDE THE CLASSROOM.
- Limit 2 classes per visit depending on location.
- Please Do Not combine classes
- In addition to the Museum Educator and the classroom teacher, A SECOND TEACHER OR PARAPROFESSIONAL MUST BE PRESENT DURING THE MOVEABLE MUSEUM VISIT.
- Alternate schedules may be available. Please coordinate with us IN ADVANCE.
- Prior to our arrival the students must know which groups they are assigned to.