Pierce College Science Dome Grand Opening

Saturday, January 19, Pierce College Fort Steilacoom located at 9401 Farwest Drive SW Lakewood, WA will have a day of activities for all ages, from pre-school to adults. This event is free. Although both shows that will be showing in the Science Dome are full, there will be a waiting list. The schedule for the day will include: a ribbon cutting ceremony at 11 am to 11:20 am, hands on exploration stations with science activities people can do will take place from 11 am to 4:30 pm, the Science Dome shows will be showing from 11:30 am to 4:30 pm (there is a waiting list for this and you can check the status of availability beforehand, by visiting: http://wp.pierce.ctc.edu/blog/sciencedome/2012/12/06/grand-opening/), chemistry demonstrations will take place at 12:50 pm and 3 pm, and the scientific method and what makes a good science fair project will be discussed.

Click poster to enlarge


Hillary Stephens, science dome coordinator at Pierce College, explained some specific science activities attendees can partake in at the event, “They can make edible comets made out of liquid nitrogen ice cream, extract DNA from wheat germ, a hands on physics demo with the Van de Graff device (attendees can place their hand on it) and their hair will stand up. It’s hair raising physics fun.

The Tacoma Astronomical Society will have a bunch of booths of the solar system to a telescope show and tell. There will be presentations run throughout the day in the classroom on “Black Holes” and the “Apollo Missions to the Moon” talks for a half hour, there’s no need to reserve seats as those will go on throughout the day in the classroom.

You can also make slime, which is sponsored by the Science Club.”

Hillary commented: “It should be a fun day, even if for people that don’t get into the actual shows in the Dome, there will be a waiting list for the day and people can put their name on the list.”

Hillary discussed the best thing about the event, “I’m really excited for the pre-school show “Planetary Explorers,” which is for three to six year olds. There are a lot of hands on things for them to do in the Dome during the Planetarium show, for example, they can hula hoop with Saturn.” [For those who do not know what a planetarium is, in this context Hillary is referring to a ceiling that’s shaped like a Dome that normally stars and star balls are normally projected on and looks like a star sky.]

Hillary even mentioned, “We’re giving away some rainbow glasses and you put them on and see rainbows when you look at the lights. We are also giving away squishy stress balls that look like the earth.”

Hillary discussed a little more about the Dome, “Our planetarium in our Dome is similar to a regular one, except we have a digital projector and project full dome movies that will take you through an Egyptian pyramid and anything you can project in a computer screen.

The cool thing about the Dome is that it’s 38 feet across and has a 3D screen and 3D effect without wearing glasses. It’s pretty neat. We’re not limited to where we look at; we can look at astronomy in Lakewood or to Mars or to another star system from that perspective.”

According to Hillary, the Dome has been an idea of Pierce College 2.5 years ago when the building was finished, but there was no money. Hillary stated: “I was hired 2.5 years ago after the building opened to help put a planetarium in. The Pierce College Foundation raised money for the Dome.

The idea of the Dome was to use it in Pierce College classes and also for pre-school through 12th grade class field trips. Aside from those groups and after the grand opening of the Dome, the Dome is used for public shows Wednesday evenings and Saturday afternoons.”

The public shows that take place in the Dome on Wednesday nights are at 7 pm and Saturday afternoons there is a kid’s show at 2 pm and a general audience show at 3:15 pm. Admission to these shows are as follows: adults are $6, kids that are under age 18 are $3, and Pierce College students are $3.

Hillary explained that general audience shows in the Dome consist of a half hour presentation of a live presentation of what’s in the sky that night. Hillary stated: “The other half of the show consists of a full Dome movie, 25 to 40 minutes long. The three shows that are rotating this quarter include: “Two Pieces of Glass,” a show about Galileo and the history of telescopes through modern day, “Ibex the search for the edge of the solar system,” which is a show about the probe that is searching for the edge of the solar system, and the “Wonders of the Universe,” a show that looks at the Hubble telescope from the birth of the universe until present day.”

Hillary also mentioned that the children’s shows topics vary; and topics are hands on and interactive, which include topics such as different phases of the moon and why they happen, traveling through the solar system, “A variety of topics depending on what the presenter wants to do,” Hillary stated.

For more information, please visit the blog at: http://wp.pierce.ctc.edu/blog/sciencedome/2012/12/06/grand-opening/

“It’s a really exciting day and awesome resource for Pierce County and the community,” Hillary concluded.

By: Carly Calabrese, staff for Tacoma.com

8 thoughts on “Pierce College Science Dome Grand Opening”

  1. This sounds like a unique and fun event…especially the liquid nitrogen ice cream. Where else can you say you’ve done that? 🙂

  2. This article caught my eye because I present “Science Magic” assemblies for elementary schools. The planetarium dome sounds very cool, and in 3D – wow! Together with the videos that they will show, I’m sure that this will inspire many new astronomers in our area. Awesome!

  3. This Science Dome will be a wonderful addition for the whole community for years to come. Sounds like amazing activities and programming for all ages. I love that there is so much for the younger kids as well. Never too early to get them introduced and exposed to science, especially all the little girls, too. Exciting to hear that the shows are already full and that there are waitlists!! That’s wonderful!

  4. I can’t wait to experience it; what a fantastic way to bring science and space into the community. Way to go, Pierce College, and congrats to Hillary Stephens for making this a reality.

  5. I LOVE Science experiments !! I just NEVER outgrew them. I wish I were in the Tacoma area to partake in this event. This is the TIME & PLACE to bring the kids of all ages to experience. I hope the local media is reporting this. Time to get these kids(and young adults) out of the house and get some fresh air and knowledge !!!!

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