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Summer at the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center: Expanded hours, new education director, new exhibit, live Super Stellar Fridays

By Staff | Jun 29, 2022

Courtesy photo

CONCORD – Summer is happening right now at the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center. The Center is open from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. seven days a week through September 4, with planetarium shows daily at 11 a.m., noon, 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. The Discovery Center will be closed on the 4th of July and Labor Day.

Leading the Discovery Center’s educational initiatives is Director of Education Jo Slavitz, who joined the Discovery Center team in mid-June after a 27-year career in middle school STEAM education. With a master’s degree in education with a STEAM concentration from Clemson University and a bachelor’s degree in social work from Syracuse University, this Nantucket native developed a love of astronomy and oceanography from an early age. Certified to teach in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Rhode Island and Texas, Slavitz is eager to put her skills to work in designing innovative programs and exhibits for Discovery Center visitors of all ages.

On Friday, July 1 at 10:30 a.m., the Discovery Center will open “Living Beyond Earth”, an exhibition funded by NH Space Grant and created by high school students at Seacoast School of Technology in Exeter, NH, and White Mountains Regional High School in Whitefield, NH, in a special semester-long partnership with the Discovery Center. “Living Beyond Earth” takes a look at the resources we will need and how we will get them when exploring worlds beyond Earth. Discovery Center visitors will experience what it takes to mine for natural resources and minerals in space in an arcade-style game, and how to create everyday objects like soda cans and mobile phones from these raw materials. With the help of FarmBot, visitors will learn how we may one day use automated farming technology to create a sustainable food source for future colonies on Mars–and how this same technology can help farmers on Earth, as well.

Later in the day on July 1, doors reopen at 6:30 p.m., as the Center hosts its first live Super Stellar Friday since March 2020, with a presentation at 7 p.m. by Earth Scientist and Discovery Center Educator Mark Reinhold, “Where are the Dinosaurs: A Short History of Mass Extinction”. In addition to Reinhold’s program, admission to the Discovery Center includes exploration of the exhibit galleries and a planetarium show. Just outside the Discovery Center, there will be a free skywatch beginning at dusk (pending clear skies), with a guided view of the night sky by Discovery Center educators and volunteers. The dinosaur/mass extinction presentation will also be available virtually, with registration via the Discovery Center’s website, www.starhop.com.

Once again, the Discovery Center is offering week-long summer STEM day camps, in which kids ages 5 – 14 explore science and engineering topics including astronomy, rocketry, aeronautical design, robotics, weather and wildlife, led by the Discovery Center’s 2022 NASA Space Grant interns Seairah Demers (Endicott College, bioengineering major; concurrent with ROTC training program at MIT) and Sarah Fung (Tufts University School of Engineering, computer science major), now through August 12. For eligible families, NH Department of Education “Rekindle Curiosity” scholarships are available for the Discovery Center’s camps: https://rekindlingcuriosityeducation.nh.gov/

Additionally, special funding is available for New American families, please contact the Discovery Center for more information.

Masks are required in the planetarium theater at all times, for everyone who is three years old and above. In order to do its part to help prevent the spread of covid-19, the Discovery Center has installed new HEPA air filters in key locations in its facility and has instituted a hybrid mask policy beginning July 1: Masks will be required in the Discovery Center Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays for everyone three years old and above, and masks will berecommended but not required Sundays through Wednesdays. This policy accommodates both those who feel safest when everyone in an indoor facility is masked, and those who prefer the flexibility of masks being recommended but not required.

Dedicated to NH Space Pioneers Christa McAuliffe and Alan Shepard, the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center features 21st century interactive exhibits on aviation, astronomy, Earth and space science, a full-dome, all-digital planetarium and a variety of science, technology, and engineering and mathematics programs. The engaging, robust educational programs are geared towards families, teens, seniors, students, community groups and lifelong learners. For more information, visit www.starhop.com.


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