50: Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Lawrence Planetarium

A Brief History of Planetarium Activities for Successful Shows (PASS)

Holt Planetarium at Lawrence Hall of Science (LHS), UC Berkeley was built in 1973 and its first Director was Alan Friedman. After 5 years of developing planetarium shows in a novel audience participation style, LHS held five National Science Foundation-funded workshops in the summer of 1978 with 100 planetarium educators from around the nation to promote audience-participatory programs. The project was called POP (Participatory Oriented Planetariums), and a publication, Planetarium Educators Workshop Guide (IPS Special Report #10) was produced and distributed to all the members of the International Planetarium Society as part of their membership privileges.

M104 galaxy photo by Mike Ford

In the years 1989-94, we received National Science Foundation funding to conduct 6 Summer Institutes in Astronomy and Space Science Education for Elementary and Middle Schools (POPS–Participatory Oriented Planetariums for Schools), with 25 participants in each, for a total of 150 participants.  For the  participants/graduates of those institutes who conduct in-service workshops in their school districts, we expanded Planetarium Educators Workshop Guide into a series of 12 volumes – Planetarium Activities for Student Success (PASS). Learning Technologies, Inc. (LTI)  supported these institutes by contribution of Starlab portable planetariums to LHS and by providing funds for the first run of printing of the PASS series. Because the audience participation techniques work in both public shows and school shows, the name PASS was changed to Planetarium Activities for Successful Shows.

In each PASS planetarium show, visitors participate in observations, experiments, and discussion in order to experience science as exciting, understandable, and to leave with feelings of accomplishment.

In its goal to promote audience participation in the planetarium world, the PASS project seeks to make its audience participation activities available to planetarium users of as many planetarium manufacturers as possible.