The Minnesota Regional Planetarium Network was founded in 2006, when the Minnesota Planetarium Society launched an outreach program with the first-ever GeoDome Theater – thanks to Joel Halvorson’s passion for education and his years of tireless work. It’s evolved (pun intended) into a consortium of science educators who collaborate to share costs and program development in a mix of fixed and portable GeoDome systems. All the systems are driven by our WorldViewer CMS and run on Elumenati IGs (image generating computers). With WorldViewer’s Open Playground Astronomy extension, network members drive OpenSpace, WorldWide Telescope, and Stellarium, all through a single user interface. Some sites have upgraded their OpenPlayground to also feature NASA’s Eyes platforms. Additionally, some sites continue to incorporate live shows using Uniview, but are increasingly using OpenSpace for Digital Universe exploration as they phase out Uniview following SCISS’s dissolution. With WorldViewer’s WorldComposer content authoring platform, educators create stories for their domes with content from NOAA and NASA, 360° video and much more.
Sally Brummel was part of MPS and is now the Planetarium Director at the Bell Museum in Minneapolis. Here’s what she has to say: “Elumenati’s WorldViewer software has allowed us to expand the programs we offer in our portable GeoDome from looking out into space, to looking back at Earth. We also have a GeoDome Panorama in our permanent exhibit gallery. Visitors especially love flying through the solar system and navigating worlds around other stars. The partnership with Elumenati is more of a collaboration. In addition to providing hardware and software, they are truly invested in learning our needs and helping us create content tailored for our visitors.”
Another active member of the network is Sara Schultz at Minnesota State University – Moorhead, who says: “I love working with Elumenati and being a part of the GeoDome Network. I have been able to create amazing experiences for my audiences using WorldViewer that I never could have otherwise. WorldViewer allows me to create truly multimedia experiences that can incorporate so much more content than only what is originally created for a planetarium. I can create and change things on the fly, instead of needing to do a ton of complicated editing outside the dome to get things to look right. I love the flexibility it has provided for me and my facility. It has opened up possibilities I would only have dreamed of without it. This is especially important for my facility since I do not have the staffing to create impressive dome visuals on our own.
“Being a part of the GeoDome network has been integral in improving and expanding the content I am able to provide in my facility. I do not have to ‘re-invent the wheel’ each time I want to do something new. I can reach out to colleagues from all over to help me do what I need and want to do in my dome. In turn, I can share my own specialized expertise with others so we can all benefit from the lessons learned by others.”
Network sites include:
- GeoDome Evolvers at Mankato East High School, Como Elementary, University of Wisconsin – River Falls, Minnesota State University – Moorhead, University of Minnesota – Duluth, University of North Dakota – Grand Forks, and Mayo High School
- GeoDome Theaters at the Bell Museum (Exploradome). University of North Dakota – Grand Forks and the Journey Museum
- GeoDome Portal at Jackson Middle School Observatory
- GeoDome Panorama at the Bell Museum – Gateway to the Universe