Middle School Programs

Below are a our programs suitable for grades 5-8.
Ohio Science Standards and other supplemental materials are included where applicable.

All programs include a live star and constellation identification unless stated otherwise. 


Bad Astronomy: Myths & Misconceptions

Were the Apollo visits to the moon actually a hoax? Have aliens landed on Earth? Can you tell your future by the stars? Prepare to debunk and tackle pseudoscience head-on with Bad Astronomy: Myths and Misconceptions.

Based on the popular book and website of the same name, Bad Astronomy offers good mix of the serious and the silly to teach about the cosmos. Join the "Bad Astronomer" Phil Plait as he stars in and narrates this critical look at popular myths and misconceptions to show audiences how science can be used to evaluate questionable claims. From the Detroit Science Center and Cranbrook Institute of Science.

Broad topics include misconceptions about science topics are prevelent; some information is designed deliberately to mislead, other information is for entertainment only; conspiracy theories; source of zodiacal constellations and horoscopes.

Additional Materials 
OH State Science Standards for Bad Astronomy 

Read his Bad Astronomy blog at Slate.com 

Check out his books "Bad Astronomy" and "Death from the Skies!: These are the Ways the World Will End . . ."



One of the most-asked questions about the universe is, “How big is it?” It’s also one of the hardest questions to answer!

BIG has been produced to tackle this question by taking you out on an immersive journey to the farthest reaches of the universe that we are currently able to observe. Along the way, you’ll be introduced to the concept of the speed of light, and see a huge range of amazing celestial objects.

Unlike any show you have seen before, BIG combines a light-hearted storytelling style with computer animation, stop-motion claymation and a powerful surround sound musical score to bring a really big subject down to Earth.

BIG, produced by NSC Creative, is narrated by Sir Richard Attenborough (Jurassic Park).

Additional Materials
OH State Science Standards for Big


Black Holes: The Other Side of Infinity

Narrated by Academy-Award nominated actor Liam Neeson, Black Holes: The Other Side of Infinity brings the current science of black holes to the dome screen. Supported by grants from NASA's high-energy GLAST telescope project and the National Science Foundation, this cutting-edge production features high-resolution, animated visualizations of cosmic phenomena, working with data generated by computer simulations. We'll bring you striking, immersive animations of the formation of the early universe, star birth and death, the collision of giant galaxies, and a simulated flight to a super massive black hole lurking at the center of our own Milky Way Galaxy. From the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

Broad topics: humans couldn't understand the universe until technology allowed study of light from stars; light from very distant objects is a "look back" in time because of limit of speed of light; astronomical data can be visualized to aid understanding.

Additional Materials
OH Science Standards for Black Holes


*NEW* Big Astronomy: People, Places, Discoveries

Big Astronomy or Astronomia a Gran Escala shares the story of the people and places who make big astronomy and big science happen. A bilingual planetarium show takes visitors to the extreme sites where astronomy happens in the most extreme environments and with some of the most interesting people. Explore world-class observatories, learn why Chile is an ideal environment for astronomy, and meet some of the diverse people who make discoveries possible.

Additional Materials
OH State Science Standards for Big Astronomy

Big Astronomy Educator's Guide


Cosmic Colors

Cosmic Colors will take you on a wondrous journey across the entire electromagnetic spectrum. Discover the many reasons for color—like why the sky is blue and why Mars is red. Take a tour within a plant leaf and journey inside the human eye. Investigate x-rays by voyaging to a monstrous black hole and then back at your doctor’s office. You will even see the actual color of a dinosaur—based on recent evidence. Get ready for an amazing adventure under a rainbow of cosmic light!

Produced by the Great Lakes Planetarium Association.

Additional Materials

OH State Science Standards for Cosmic Colors

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Cosmic Recipe: Setting the Periodic Table

The famous astronomer Carl Sagan once said: “If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.” Though that may sound crazy, Sagan was onto something BIG! Want to know what? Pull up a chair at our Planetarium’s Periodic Table and learn the cosmic recipes that created everything in our world – even us! Discover how the Big Bang and the stars have cooked up the everyday elements we interact with every day—like the calcium in our teeth, the silicon in our smartphones, and even the carbon in our apple pies. Explore the world of chemistry—the protons, neutrons and electrons! See how tiny atoms relate to the mammoth stars! Connect the physical worlds of the small and large in this engaging and inspiring show.

Additional Materials

OH State Science Standards for The Cosmic Recipe


Dynamic Earth

The Earth is a living, dynamic planet. How did it get that way? What happens if our global climate changes?

This immersive program takes the audience above Earth to look at how our atmosphere moves; below the ocean to seek how currents move and how the carbon chain begins; and to Venus, the perfect example of a climate system gone wrong.

Specifically designed to address NGSS for 7th grade, Earth and Space Sciences. Topics include cycles and patterns of Earth and the moon, specifically hydrologic cycle, patterns in the atmosphere and oceans, and relationships between thermal energy and currents.

Additional Materials

OH State Science Standards for Dynamic Earth


Earth, Moon, & Sun

This planetarium show explores the relationship between Earth, Moon and Sun with the help of Coyote, an amusing character adapted from Native American oral traditions. Coyote has many misconceptions about our home planet and its most familiar neighbors. His confusion about the universe makes viewers think about how Earth, Moon and Sun work together as a system and learn to distinguish between myths and science.

Learn the basics of fusion and solar energy and why the Sun rises and sets. Examine the Moon’s orbit, craters, phases and eclipses. You’ll even take a look at past and future space travel to our Moon … and beyond!

Additional Materials

OH State Science Standards for Earth, Moon & Sun


Explore Our Solar System LIVE!

Join us on the Starship Ward Beecher as we embark on a grand tour of our solar system real time, with opportunities to influence where we travel and what we discover. 



Throughout Earth's violent history, impacts from comets and asteroids have mercilessly shaped its surface. The ancient barrage continues today; from harmless meteors - those brilliant streaks in the night sky, to mountain sized boulders wandering perilously close to Earth. Terrifying and majestic, these invaders from space are capable of utter destruction yet they have delivered life-giving water and most of the organic materials necessary for life.
Features the stunning artwork of Joe Tucciarone, YSU alum and noted space artist, and music by Troy McClellan, another YSU alum and planetarium student worker.

Additional Materials

OH State Science Standards for Firefall

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Flight Adventures

Dreams of flying, a model aircraft and a young girl and her grandfather come together in this multi-media planetarium show about the science of aeronautics. Learn about famous inventors and aviators of the past and the pioneers who first revealed the 4 forces of flight. See images of aircraft past, present and future and imagine where flight might take us.

Make your own FPG-9! Click the following link for instructions, a pdf downloadable template, and a video showing it being made: Academy of Model Aeronautics

Additional Materials
Flight Adventures Educational Guide
DIY Paper Helicopter Template



Did you know, it has been over 50 years since humans first stepped on the moon? And that it's been 42 years since the last footstep was left?

Footsteps explores the myths and lore of the moon and the history leading up to the triumphant accomplishment of Neil Armstrong’s footsteps on the moon. This classic program was originally produced at the Hansen Planetarium in Salt Lake City and has been newly digitized by the Ward Beecher staff.


Legends of the Night Sky: Orion

Accompanied by narrators Aesop the owl and Socrates the mouse, we follow Orion's adventures as he grows to manhood, battles mythical beasts, foils the plot of an evil king and wins the heart of Artemis, the beautiful moon-goddess. By the end of the story, we learn how the constellation Orion was placed in the sky, forever turning overhead throughout the seasons.

Additional Materials
LNS Orion Coloring Sheet
LNS Orion Coloring Sheet - Canis Major & Canis Minor
LNS Orion Coloring Sheet - Orion Constellation
LNS Orion Coloring Sheet - Scorpius


Legends of the Night Sky: Perseus & Andromeda

Accompanied by narrators Aesop the owl and Socrates the mouse, we follow Perseus and Andromeda in a fun-filled retelling of the beautiful but unfortunate princess Andromeda, who in divine punishment for her mother’s bragging, is sacrificed to a sea monster—and rescued by the Greek hero Perseus.

A fantastic pre-show to a live constellation identification lecture!

Additional Materials
LNS Perseus & Andromeda Coloring Sheet
LNS Perseus & Andromeda Coloring Sheet - Cassiopeia
LNS Perseus & Andromeda Coloring Sheet - Pegasus
LNS Perseus & Andromeda Coloring Sheet - Perseus


Let it Snow (available in December)

A holiday music show celebrating the winter season. Artistic impressions of popular winter holiday music come to life on the dome transporting the entire family to a magical wonderland of music and light. Experience bells and reindeer, presents and cookies, snow and nutcrackers in colorful spectacles of fun!


The Nature of Science

The Nature of Science is designed to communicate what science is and how scientists work. The show features interviews with Weber State University (Utah) College of Science faculty as they discuss their work. 


*NEW* Mayan Archaeoastronomy

A unique planetarium show intertwining science and mythology, transporting the viewer on a poetic journey describing the way Mayans viewed and understood the Universe. The show includes a tour of six Mayan temples: San Gervasio, Chichen Itzá, Uxmal, Edzná, Palenque and Bonampak. The importance of the orientation of the temples in relation to the movements of the Sun, Moon and Venus is vividly depicted.


Moons: Worlds of Mystery

When you consider the solar system, you often think of the Sun and its planets. But what about moons? What role do they play? Delve into what they look like and how they contribute to our knowledge of the solar system in Moons: Worlds of Mystery! It explores hundreds of these known satellites throughout the solar system, orbiting five other planets and even some asteroids and Kuiper Belt objects.


Natural Selection

We will join Darwin on his voyage with the HMS Beagle to the Galapagos Islands where he was inspired to develop his later theory of transmutation by natural selection.
From the comfort of Down House in Kent, Darwin himself will explain the mechanism of natural selection to the audience, and support it by showing many beautiful examples in nature.

The thrill of a scientific discovery, the adventure of science and the beauty of nature are central in this show. This program is a joint presentation of YSU’s Department of Physics and Astronomy and the Department of Biology.

NOTE: The extended version of Natural Selection includes DNA, genetic mutations, and sexual selection. Due to its extended length, a star identification program may not be included.

Additional Materials
OH Science Standards for Natural Selection
Natural Selection Educator's Guide


Nite-LITE (available in October)

The Ward Beecher Planetarium’s spooky and spectacular annual Halloween spectacular has been going strong since 1974! Updated every year with new lights and visuals. Great for all ages, although younger visitors might be scared of the loud music and dark.

Night-LITE is our popular light and music extravaganza presented in a fun, non-scary style, making this show ideal for all ages.

NOTE: No live star and constellation identification lecture offered with this show.


Additional Materials
Nightlights Maze Activity
Nightlights Coloring Sheet 1
Nightlights Coloring Sheet 2
This is Halloween Coloring Sheet


Oasis in Space

Take a beautiful journey through the solar system and beyond in search of water – and water worlds like our own planet Earth. Oasis in Space incorporates the latest results of astronomical research and exploration and offers a new look at water, that simple mixture of hydrogen and oxygen that seems to be the key for all life on Earth.  

Additional Materials

OH State Science Standards for Oasis in Space


One Day... On Mars

Join our expedition to Mars and enjoy a thrilling immersive experience. You’ll dive into the depths of seemingly bottomless canyons and brave the violent winds that sweep across the Red Planet’s icy dunes. “One Day … on Mars” will take you to a world that mankind could well visit in just a few decades in our ongoing search for life.

Additional Materials

OH State Science Standards for One Day on Mars



Produced by Mirage3D and Koenig Films, “SEEING!” follows a photon’s creation and journey across the galaxy to a young stargazer’s eye. The viewer follows the photon into the girl’s eye, learning the structures of the eye and their functions prior to taking a ride on the optic nerve. “Seeing!” is narrated by Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, American astrophysicist, cosmologist, and author..


Sky Wars: Battles of Discovery

In this Planetarium program, follow the struggles as new discoveries alter our view of Earth and its place in the universe. Witness the connections and conflicts between astronomy and astrology. See how the Earth went from a flat place to a round world -- from a static, motionless home to a spinning, orbiting planet! Finally, voyage into the galaxy to glimpse how future discoveries might start new battles about the sky above.

Additional Materials

OH State Science Standards for Sky Wars


Sizing Up Space

Distances in space are difficult to grasp. We really can't comprehend distances much beyond the orbit of Pluto, so how can we wrap our heads around galaxies that are billions of light years away?

Sizing Up Space is an introduction to distances in the universe, all based on the time it takes light to travel (186,000 miles per second).

A nice introduction to the program Big or as an add-on to any planetarium program.

Additional Materials

OH State Science Standards for Sizing Up Space



Every star has a story. Some are as old as time, faint and almost forgotten. Others live short lives and end in powerful explosions. New stars are created every day, born of vast clouds of gas and dust. Through every phase of their existence, stars release the energy that powers the universe.

This fulldome program features the voice talent of Mark Hamill (known for his noable role in Star Wars as Luke Skywalker) and stunning immersive animation. A production of the Sudekum Planetarium at the Adventure Science Center in Nashville and National Space Centre.

Additional Materials
OH Science Standards for STARS
STARS Word Search


*NEW* The Sun: Our Living Star

The Sun has shone on our world for four and a half billion years. It is our nearest star and our planet’s powerhouse, the source of the energy that drives our winds, our weather and all life. Discover the secrets of our star in this planetarium show and experience never-before-seen images of the Sun’s violent surface in this visually striking planetarium show about the most important star in our lives.

Additional Materials

OH State Science Standards for The Sun



This program is all about eclipses – from lunar to total solar. We cover how they occur and what happens when they do. We look back to the proof of general relativity and look forward to upcoming eclipses and where to witness them. Our production includes a variety of wonderful styles – from spectacular space environments to humorous pop-up books. A very special part of the show relates, in a very human way, what happens when you are caught in the shadow of the Moon and the Sun is plunged into a total solar eclipse. Your audience will love this program. And so will your audience of most any age.


Two Small Pieces of Glass

Learn how the telescope has helped us understand our place in space and how telescopes continue to expand our understanding of the universe in this International Year of Astronomy program. We’ll explore the Galilean moons, Saturn’s rings, and the spiral structure of galaxies and learn about the discoveries of Galileo, Huygens, Newton, Hubble and many others.

Produced to engage and appeal to audiences of all ages, Two Small Pieces of Glass traces the history of the telescope from Galileo’s modifications to a child’s spyglass—using two small pieces of glass—to the launch of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and the future of astronomy.

Additional Materials
OH Science Standards for Two Small Pieces of Glass
Telescope Parts Diagram
Telescope Word Search


Undiscovered Worlds: The Search Beyond Our Sun

Through the discovery of exoplanets — the hundreds of planets that have been found orbiting stars beyond the Sun — we have learned that our solar system is not alone in the universe and we have had to redefine our understanding of planets and solar systems.

Additional Materials
OH Science Standards for Undiscovered Worlds


What Are Constellations?

An original production of the Ward Beecher Planetarium.

Our constellations mainly come from the Greeks, so why do they have Latin names? And what’s up with those star names, anyway?  This show will look at where our 88 “official” constellations came from, which leads us on a journey through the history of astronomy.