Reopening of Sacred Heart University’s Discovery Science Center and Planetarium

Starting this June, Sacred Heart University’s Discovery Science Center and Planetarium will be in full gear for a safe reopening. Being approximately one mile away from the university’s main campus, there will be new and updated exhibits, along with a more immersive planetarium.

According to a statement issued from the university, “Renovations have been ongoing since the university assumed operation of the Bridgeport museum in January. The museum, situated at 4450 Park Ave., has a 62-year history of providing educational experiences in science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) to young learners through programs that inspire wonder and ignite creativity.”

Although the Discovery Science Center has been shut down due to COVID-19 guidelines, there have been virtual events that anyone, from all over the world, can attend.

“The Discovery Science Center currently offers virtual learning experiences for schools, scouts, community centers, and more,” said David Mestre, project coordinator of the Discovery Science Center. “Experiences range from chemistry demonstrations, lessons on the solar system, virtual planetarium shows and much more.”

Soon, the center will reopen in phases as the pandemic and the renovation schedule allow.

“Plans call for the center to open for summer programs, and the public can make reservations to visit the Henry B. duPont III Planetarium as well. School groups can resume visits in September, when limited public admission also will begin,” said the statement from the university. “Then, on a date to be determined, the center will reopen fully, with special admission rates for members and no-cost admission days for Bridgeport residents.”

For years, the former Discovery Center and Planetarium promoted STEAM programs and access to education for all.

Sophomore Jenna Hughes is an education major who hopes to eventually take advantage of this center.

“I think this center is an amazing opportunity for students to get a hands-on learning experience,” said Hughes. “This is not only an educational experience for the students, but also an entertaining one, hopefully leading to them paying more attention and learning more.”

The Discovery Center is not only reopening, but it will also have new advances that will benefit students more.

According to a statement issued from the university, “Thanks to software and technology updates, visitors will find an even more immersive planetarium. New software called Digistar 7 provides the planetarium with cutting-edge technology used by NASA. From their seats, visitors will see stars, the rings on Saturn and other wonders of the universe.”

Michael Alfano, dean of Sacred Heart’s Isabelle Farrington College of Education, has partnered with Mestre to involve students, faculty and staff in the science center and planetarium.

“I want SHU students, faculty and staff to actively contribute to the re-imagining of this amazing resource,” said Alfano. “Not too many universities around the country have a direct connection to a museum or science center, but we do. That’s amazing, and the opportunities for the SHU and greater Bridgeport communities are nearly endless.”

Education students at Sacred Heart recently received training to teach some of the center’s classes.

“That includes a program called ‘Slimeology,’ in which local school children can explore different states of matter and make slime. School districts throughout the state can sign up for Discovery programs by going to the website,” said the statement from the university.

Alfano and Mestre are excited about the learning experiences that are soon to come at the center.

“We invite SHU students to leave their mark and make an impact on the SHU Discovery Science Center and Planetarium as we inspire wonder and ignite creativity well into the next century,” said Mestre.

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