Exhibition offers unmatched cosmic learning experience
The solar system has intrigued minds young and old throughout the generations. A new mile-long exhibition in downtown Kansas City now gives students of all ages a unique outdoor glimpse of celestial wonder. Short of the Hubbell telescope, there may be no better way for science teachers to bring their astronomy lessons to life.
Built at one ten-billionth the size of the actual solar system, the Voyage exhibition will take cosmic learning outside the walls of a classroom, offering a perspective that goes beyond science textbooks. The permanent replica offers a must-see, must-do field trip option for science classes throughout the region.
Voyage: A Journey through the Solar System is based on the original model that currently stands on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Kansas City's exhibition will be the first to replicate the scale of the original. The exhibition begins with the sun, located at 13th and Baltimore, with the display running south along Baltimore through the Crossroads District, then ending in front of Union Station. On the south side of Union Station will be an Explorers Unit, which will spotlight humanity's many discoveries and achievements in space. The exhibition opened on October 10, 2008.
The exhibition features a series of tall stainless steel towers, each displaying a different planet or element of the solar system. Three-dimensional model planets combine with moons laser-sculpted in crystal. A copper ball with a mottled surface offers a realistic representation of the sun. There is also a belt of asteroids and comets.
Each display includes a high-resolution, full-color storyboard from which students will discover fascinating cosmic factoids like which planet's moon has the most visible volcanic eruptions, which one has virtually no air to scatter sunlight and color its sky, which planet glows at night, and more.
The Voyage experience will take approximately thirty minutes to complete, walking at a leisurely pace from the sun to Pluto and will be integrated with local landmarks and the cityscape. The exhibition's Explorers Unit at Union Station will complement the NASA Challenger Center already in Science City.
The project was funded by the Kauffman Foundation. Teachers can access ample lesson overviews on PDF at www.voyagesolarsystem.org/lessons/.