Case Study: Casper Planetarium
2023-04-26 / Staff Writer / Case Study
“Human beings are visual creatures. Planetariums are a way to illustrate your thinking instead of just the written word. It’s an investment, but it’s an investment that does, I think, pay dividends.”
Natrona County School District No. 1 is a PK-12 public school located in Casper, Wyoming with a total student population of 13,110.
Rod Kennedy is the Casper Planetarium Supervisor. The primary focus of the Casper Planetarium is to support the education of students within the Natrona County School District. Additionally, they provide the surrounding community with public planetarium shows five days a week.
A long-time planetarium technician and supervisor, Kennedy noted that “Many of the planetarium system options available are powerful, but not easy to adjust in real-time.” In today's world, flexibility and adaptability are crucial. Educators must be able to prepare in advance but also change things in response to students’ needs. Adapting in real time to student interests and understanding allows educators the opportunity to capitalize on teachable moments.
Planetarium systems can aid schools in meeting science standards and provide immersive, supplemental material to augment what is taught in the classroom. In order to maximize their potential, planetarium systems must be easy to use and not require an inordinate amount of training. Users should be able to learn the programs quickly and be able to create presentations intuitively. There must be support structures available to assist educators in crafting the most impactful experiences.
Funding is an area of concern for many public school districts. Many planetarium suppliers require districts to purchase full system upgrades, while Digitalis takes a modular approach. Computers and projectors can be upgraded in stages, enabling districts to spread out costs. Additionally, systems should provide options that allow for various learning environments, like remote or hybrid instruction.
Kennedy had been familiar with Digitalis systems for years due to their prominence at planetarium conferences. After research, he found that it was within their budget and at a good price point they could afford with the use of grant funds. Because Digitalis system options are flexible, the school district was able to secure a system that was:
- Easy to upgrade.
- At a low cost per pupil.
- Provided multiple options for use, like SkyBox, which can present planetarium content even when not in the dome.
In addition to its affordability, Digitalis provided the best ease-of-use compared to other systems. Kennedy notes that “The Universal Console is very easy to use and learn quickly. I can teach it to my interns in about an hour.” This makes it easy to provide turn-key training to other staff members. Even high school astronomy students at the school district are provided with the opportunity to use the planetarium to teach a lesson in their culminating project.
The Natrona County School District is passionate about the opportunities that their Digitalis Planetarium system provides students and the community.
The Digitalis planetarium system:
- Immerses students in an unrivaled simulation experience.
- Transforms students’ thinking processes.
- Creates long-lasting memories that impact students far beyond their time in the planetarium.
Kennedy notes that the Digitalis Planetarium system provides inimitable experiences because it can be adapted to students’ curiosity and needs. The live, interactive environment addresses the needs of students with visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning preferences because it takes content from a typical classroom and makes it come alive around them. Because of this, Kennedy states that the planetarium “is a great gateway to getting kids excited about other sciences, like chemistry and physics.”
Digitalis provides peerless support for its users. They offer:
- In-person training
- Online training programs
- Detailed user manuals
- Free standard tech support
- Free Community forums
Kennedy shared “They [Digitalis] have been absolutely great to work with. It has a real community feel…They are so easy to work with and so responsive to what people are asking for. Even if it’s not possible, they let you know that…At Digitalis, they offer step by step help for everyone from absolute beginners to those of us who have been doing this for 20 years. They are fantastic.”
Discover how Digitalis helps K-12 schools build superior STEM learning opportunities. Book a demonstration now.