Planetarium Professionals: A balancing act to engage and educate
The planetarium is a hybrid institution: it is an educational space that also strives to entertain. While a number of studies of planetarium usage have mentioned the conflict between educational and entertainment goals, none have made this apparent contradiction, and planetarium professionals’ views of this divergence, the primary area of investigation. This study aims to fill that gap. Through interviews with seven planetarians with different levels of experience in the field, a model is built of how planetarians themselves navigate between these potentially conflicting demands. The planetarians’ responses suggest that, contrary to initial expectations, avoiding the temptation to “dumb-down” astronomical content and to focus instead on entertainment to attract more visitors is not the primary challenge they face. Rather, the opposite is the case: the individuals in my study found it far more challenging to make the scientific concepts they are trying to communicate intelligible and meaningful to their audience within the medium of the planetarium.
Croft, J. (2008). Planetarium Professionals: A balancing act to engage and educate. The Planetarian, 37(4), 6-16