On a cool Monday in October, 1966, during a decade marked by President John F. Kennedy’s dream of launching men into space and astronaut Neil Armstrong’s first walk on the moon, the Pottsville Area School District took one not-so-small step towards science education by establishing and dedicating the Pottsville Area High School Motivational Science Center. Located in Pennsylvania’s northeastern coal region and Schuylkill County’s only city, the Center consists of a 30ft diameter planetarium dome with a Spitz A3P center-mounted optomechanical projector. A rooftop observatory was also constructed and currently houses a Meade Lx 200 10" telescope.
This past school year we celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Motivational Science Center. As part of the Center’s 50th Anniversary Celebration planning process, we made the decision to upgrade the center’s facilities so that our district is able to continue providing state-of-the-art astronomy education to our 2,742 students as well the members of the Pottsville community and beyond.
The Meade telescope has served the school and community well, having been the connection between earth and space for thousands of students and community members throughout the last twenty-five years. After countless mechanical improvements and overall diminishing performance, it is soon time to retire this aging telescope.
Our goal is to replace the antiquated telescope with a new Meade LX850-ACF 14" f/8… or comparable telescope, for the cost of $10,000. Our second goal is to expand viewing opportunities to larger crowds by steaming live events through the school webpage. The estimated cost of the video equipment is $2,000.
We need the support of the community to make this dream a reality. In 1966, the “race to space” dominated national headlines and funding came from the federal government. In 2017, those types of funding programs are almost non-existent, or, if available at all, focus on larger, more urban areas. No single source of funding currently exists. The center is the only planetarium in Schuylkill County and serves as the area’s astronomical hub. Without the Center, students and the community must travel over one hour away to visit another planetarium.
With your support, the Motivational Science Center at Pottsville Area High School can continue to educate and inspire for years to come. This year we have already served over 500 community members during the public open houses, coordinated 10 private tours, and donated “A Night Under the Stars” prize packages to local fundraising auctions. The schedule of events for the 2017-2018 school year is currently being finalized and we are excited to host the upcoming Great American Solar Eclipse.
Great American Solar Eclipse - The event will take place at the Motivational Science Center on Monday August 21, 2017 from 11:30am-5:00pm. Weather permitting, participants will be able to safely view a partial solar eclipse from the observatory.
Please help us keep the stars shining. Please share this campaign with friends and family.
We thank you in advance for your interest in our project and your generosity. If you are interested in experiencing our planetarium and observatory first hand, please contact me to setup a visit. For more information on the Motivational Science Center please see link below.
I would like to give a special “thank you” to Dr. Jeffery Zwiebel and the PASD Board of directors for their continued support of science education, and thank you to the PASD custodial staff for their dedication to the facilities.
Thank you for considering our project.
Adrian Portland, PAHS Science Department Lead Teacher
Motivational Science Center 50th Anniversary video