Sacred Heart University’s Discovery Science Center and Planetarium, which closed its doors well over a year ago when Covid-19 struck, officially opened to the public on Saturday, Sept. 25.
Previously known as the Discovery Museum, this facility came under Sacred Heart ownership Jan. 1, 2021.
“The Discovery Museum and Planetarium staff and trustees are proud to join with Sacred Heart University in this momentous collaboration,” said Robert A. Panza, chairman of the Discovery Museum and Planetarium. “Sacred Heart University shares our continuing commitment and mission to providing a strong STEM education experience to our community.”
The museum, which has been a staple in Bridgeport for 62 years, underwent a $1.8 million renovation over the summer which brought improvements to the planetarium, as well as several other exhibits, and included a complete revitalization to the look both inside and out.
The freshly decorated exterior includes a fitting red and grey paintjob, and the interior sports a fresh modern vibe.
“The lobby is bright and exciting, it makes you want to walk around the entire building,” said sophomore Mike Burke, who visited the museum for the first time.
The museum focuses on delivering an enriching education experience in all science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM) subjects.
“My favorite exhibit was the planetarium,” said Burke. “The entire room is immersive, and the exhibits are stunning.”
The planetarium includes several interactive exhibits, including a moon landing simulation game and an interactive kiosk that allows you to explore the universe and learn about planetary bodies.
The Earth and Us exhibit tells the story of life on Earth, starting with the age of the dinosaurs and leading up to the age of humans.
The new exhibits introduce children to concepts like physics and anatomy in fun and exciting ways.
Sophomore and education major Celia Ponto thought that the exhibits are a great way to introduce kids to these complex ideas “without them even knowing.”
“The exhibits are like games,” said Ponto. “They make learning fun. The basketball hoops introduce the science of motion; the teddy bear section is a great place for kids to use their imagination and pretend to be doctors while nursing their toys back to health.”
These new exhibits help Sacred Heart deliver on its promise to give back to its community and help educate the youth.
“This project is another example of how a university gives back to the community where it resides,” said SHU President John J. Petillo.
As well as opportunities for the youth to learn, the museum introduces a unique opportunity for STEM students at SHU to receive a hands-on education.
There are plans to incorporate students with education majors into programs involved with the museum that would allow the students to strengthen their teaching skills while working with kids from the area.
The museum also plans to offer summer internships to Sacred Heart students of all majors and interests, as well as high-school aged students in the area.
“Working together, we’ll realize a new and vibrant future for all who study and visit with us,” said Panza.