New £30,000 inflatable planetarium dome unveiled in Hull

The University of Hull has unveiled a new mobile planetarium to help more young people reach for the stars.

The £30,000 investment in a new inflatable dome aims to encourage greater interest in science, technology, engineering and maths learning in schools and colleges.

Designed to suit children up to the age of 18, it is large enough to accommodate a class of 30 students indoors with a teacher and two university staff.

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It is also accessible to students with special educational needs and disabilities.

Professor Brad Gibson, Head of the Campus Physics and Mathematics Department, said: “When I rolled out our original mobile planetarium in 2017, we really underestimated its potential for impact in the region.

“Over the next three years, our team of undergraduate students led by Daniel Whitt moved into leadership roles, designing and delivering nearly 200 shows to 5,000 students.

The new mobile planetarium at the University of Hull

“Three-quarters of the students affected came from schools in socio-economically disadvantaged areas, a philosophy that underpins everything we do to run perhaps the most ambitious outreach program in the country.

“Our investment in the new, even larger mobile planetarium will only increase the impact our students have already had on thousands of other students.

“The incredible success of the program is a true testament to the passion of these students and their commitment to broadening participation.”

The shows inside the planetarium are designed for different age groups. For example, young children are taken on a journey around the solar system while older students examine topics such as fusion forces and reactions as well as pressure balance.

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In addition to projecting images and movies of stars, galaxies, planets and comets onto the dome, the team also brings telescopes to schools for students to use.

Professor Gibson said the big aim of the new planetarium was to encourage more people to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

In addition to visiting schools and colleges, campus officials say they also want to hear from the public about bringing the planetarium to community events outside of school hours.

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Arline J. Mercier