Sixty years after it first opened, a renewed and modernized Planetarium and STEM Center is being reintroduced at the Air Force Academy.
With modern technology and opportunities to showcase more than constellations, the Planetarium and STEM Center can have an even larger impact than its predecessor. Programs will be offered for K-12 STEM outreach, cadets and the general public. Pre-made presentations will be used as the facility showcases its capabilities. The staff will be able to create their own shows as well.
The facility had been shuttered since 2004. Thanks to the findings of a Planetarium Task Force convened in 2012, the Academy started making plans to reopen the planetarium. Lead gifts by John Martinson ’70 and Jerry ’70 and Pam Bruni helped the USAFA Endowment raise over $2.5 million in private funds. The public- private partnership between the Academy and the Endowment created a state-of-the-art facility that will educate visitors for years to come.
During 2018, the Planetarium and STEM Center underwent a major change inside and out. See some photos here of the progress.
Chairman, Martinson Ventures
A venture capitalist, software industry leader, philanthropist and Vietnam War veteran, John Martinson is a strong supporter of education and the Air Force Academy. He points to the Air Force core values as influential drivers of his many careers. From Air Force pilot to entrepreneur and philanthropist, he has lived a life of service, innovation and leadership.
He first discovered the planetarium as a young boy scout. As a cadet, one of the first things he did was volunteer to help with the planetarium shows. And one of the first sights he saw every morning when he woke up in Vandenberg Hall was the large white dome that inspired him in the early 1960s.
Martinson hopes the Planetarium and STEM Center will similarly inspire cadets, school children and visitors. The facility’s renovation and rebirth will promote impactful learning with innovative instructional design and advanced presentation technology.
Approximately 1,100 people attended the lunar eclipse event at the Planetarium and STEM Center, the first public event since it was renovated. The evening included a film, a lecture about the eclipse and telescopes for closer viewing.
Gifts made today in support of the Academy foster cadet exploration, engagement and discovery. They help develop a well versed and more experienced officer in the United States Air Force.