What it is: This past weekend we decided to head to the Morehead Planetarium in Chapel Hill to check out Science Live! All Systems Go. Science Live! is a free, demonstration show offered through the planetarium. All Systems Go, Phenomenal Physics, and Magnificent Matter are the three shows that are currently running. My son is very into how the body works right now, so we chose All Systems Go. I'd read about the show on the website, but really didn't know what to expect. At 5 minutes to showtime we were escorted into the science stage room. The experiments were already set up on a lab table in front of us. I'm a front row student and really wanted a front row seat, but my children wanted to sit up high, which put us in the back. The room has graduated seating, so we were still able to see.
When our demonstrator introduced herself we learned she is a Morehead Planetarium volunteer and a sports and exercise science major at UNC. Since the shows are run by volunteers, I suppose the experience could differ based on who your demonstrator is. However, I was very impressed with our demonstrator. She began the show by asking "what does something need to be alive?". There were a variety of answers given as the age of audience participants ranged from 5 all the way to 65. She then talked about science safety in a fun, engaging way before getting to the experiments. There were several experiments and demonstrations, and each required audience participation. My son was thrilled to be chosen for one demonstration. We got to see his fingerprints magnified on a large screen. After the show everyone who wanted a chance to see their fingerprints, clothing, or scabs (eww!) up close and personal could do so. The show lasted 30 minutes and held my 5 year old son's attention. This visit could have been paired with a show in the planetarium's theater, but we opted to head to Sugarland for a sweet treat instead. It made for the perfect end to our outing.
What we liked: I loved that this was a FREE show as our family is on a budget this summer. It is in walking distance of UNC's campus and several great Franklin St. restaurants which allowed us to make it a full afternoon outing. The Science Live! show held the attention of my 5 year old, but also seemed to captivate children who looked to be in late middle school. There are different shows and they rotate periodically, so this will be a fun, educational destination for years to come.
What we would change: The website says these shows are for ages 5 and up and I definitely agree. I had my one year old in tow and she was not happy to sit still. In the future I'll probably leave the little one at home. Also, when we arrived at the planetarium, parking was free. When we left, however, it was not. I would make sure you read the parking payment schedule upon entering the lot so you are not caught off guard like I was.
Website and other important information:
Address: 250 East Franklin St., Chapel Hill, NC 27599 Hours: refer to the calendar on the webpage
Admission: FREE (remember that you may need to pay for parking and will need to pay if you plan to attend a theater show)