Planetarium Curriculum/Activities

Contact Information

Leslie Barnhill

Planetarium Facilitator
lbarnhill@mesquiteisd.org
972-882-7752

Guadalupe Rico

Planetarium Secretary
grico@mesquiteisd.org
972-882-7750

Scheduling Information

For Mesquite ISD classes, transportation is provided for you by the Planetarium. Ms. Rico, our Planetarium Secretary will schedule the transportation/buses for you after you have provided her with the pertinent information. 

We schedule on a first-come-first-served basis, with priority given to 5th and 8th grades.  We hope that this will give teachers more flexibility with the dates and times of their visits to the Planetarium.  When your grade level time-slot is open, please contact Ms. Rico with the following information: 

  • Date(s) of show
  • How many students (for best viewing 60 per show, but the dome seats 72 (rule of thumb: 2 classes per show)
  • Any students with special needs (for transportation)
  • Show start times
  • Length of show (include drive time)
  • Concepts to be covered (can be given to Leslie Barnhill up to one week prior to visit)


Please follow these additional directions for a smoothly scheduled trip

  • Buses cannot pick up students before 9:15 a.m., and they have to be back to the Transportation building by 2:30pm (2:15 p.m. if it is a lift bus), which means they will need to be back to your school around 2:10pm (1:55pm if it is a lift bus).
  • The Transportation Department will determine how many students per bus and how many buses per Planetarium visit
  • Each bus must have at least one teacher on it
  • If two shows are scheduled in one day, there will be two DIFFERENT buses.
  • The Planetarium Holds about 70 students.
  • Please have the students sit closer to center and have the teachers sit closer to the sides (better viewing for the students).
  • The general length of the show is 70 minutes for Middle School students, 90 minutes for Elementary School students; INCLUDING DRIVE TIME, however, when scheduling, you may choose how long you wish your show to be.
  • Please set up your own class coverage.
  • Please help out your fellow long-term substitute teachers. They may have not visited the Planetarium before and may need assistance.
  • Once scheduled, if you change ANYTHING (classes, class counts, etc.), please notify us immediately so we can update transportation.

While at the Planetarium

  • Teachers, please manage your class' behavior.
  • Ooh/ahs and excitement is welcomed by all! However, if a class cannot calm down at appropriate the time, please assist with classroom management.
  • Please discuss with students proper behavior in dome and restrooms.
  • No gum, food, candy, drinks or slime.
  • No sharp objects (had to redo many ‘stabs’ in seats).
  • If a student needs to use the restroom, please accompany that student.
  • If there are any questions or concerns, please contact us immediately at 972-882-7750. We want to make sure that your visit to the Planetarium is engaging and exciting.

For groups outside of the Mesquite school district, please call Ms. Rico (972-882-7750) for prices and dates available.

2nd Grade Classes

All shows at the Planetarium are flexible and can be custom made to suit individual teacher’s needs.  We have a lecture hall that can be utilized if multiple classes want to visit and team teach with lessons taught by teachers in the lecture hall while I am teaching in the dome.  

2nd Grade Concepts

2nd grade mini lesson options:

  • Objects in the sky
  • Shadows with day and night
  • Sun
  • Moon
  • Moon Phases (identification)
  • Weather Data and Patterns (new this year)
  • Quick Introduction of the Planets (new this year)
  • Constellations and objects in the current night sky
  • Fulldome presentation of Zula Patrol: Weather
  • Q & A (something specific, or general student questions of the day)
  • Breakout Box Activity (please give Leslie Barnhill 3 weeks notice for this activity)
  • Astro Otter Fulldome Short Video Presentations (dated/two-dimensional animation, but excellently tied to the concepts)  
  • Apparent Motion of the Sun                                                                  
  • Objects in the Sky                                                                                    
  • Rotation and revolution                                                                         
  • Sun Properties                                                                                          
  • Our Solar System                                                                                     
  • Space Exploration                                                                                   
  • History of Astronomy
  • Characteristics of the Planets            

3rd Grade Classes

3rd Grade Concepts 

All shows at the Planetarium are flexible and can be custom made to suit individual teacher’s needs.  We have a lecture hall that can be utilized if multiple classes want to visit and team teach with lessons taught by teachers in the lecture hall while I am teaching in the dome.  

3rd grade mini lesson options:

  • Main planets & other objects in the solar system, including size comparison of objects
  • Sun
  • Cardinal points/compass
  • Orbits, Positions, Movements of the Earth, Moon and Sun (Rotation/Revolution) **Updated**
  • Fulldome Presentation of Perfect Little Planet **NEW** (approximately 25 minutes)
  • Fulldome Presentation of Secrets of a Cardboard Rocket (approximately 30 minutes)
  • Comparing weather changes on Earth **Updated**
  • Constellations and objects in the current night sky
  • Q & A (something specific, or general student questions of the day)
  • Astro Otter Fulldome Short Video Presentations (dated/two-dimensional animation, but excellently tied to the concepts)  
    • Apparent Motion of the Sun
    • Objects in the Sky
    • Rotation and revolution
    • Sun Properties
    • Our Solar System
    • Space Exploration
    • History of Astronomy
    • Characteristics of the Planets
    • Spectroscopy

  We have purchased BREAKOUT BOXES this year.  We hope to be adding lessons as time progresses.  Please give me ample time to create the puzzles during this first year.

                                                                                

*Contact Leslie Barnhill at x7752 or lbarnhill@mesquiteisd.org for concepts chosen

4th Grade Classes

All shows at the Planetarium are flexible and can be custom made to suit individual teacher’s needs.  We have a lecture hall that can be utilized if multiple classes want to visit and team teach with lessons taught by teachers in the lecture hall while I am teaching in the dome.  

4th Grade Concepts

4th grade mini lesson options: 

  • Sun (source of energy and changes of sun over time)
  • Fulldome presentation of The Water Cycle
  • Seasons (changes in the sky)
  • Predictions of Moon Phases
  • Constellations and objects in current night sky
  • Fun Review of Planets and the Solar System (new this year)
  • Identify landforms caused by weathering, erosion and deposition of water, wind and ice
  • Q & A (something specific, or general student questions of the day)
  • Breakout Box Activity (please contact Leslie Barnhill 3 weeks in advance for this mini-lesson)
  • Astro Otter Fulldome Short Video Presentations (dated/two-dimensional animation, but excellently tied to the concepts)  
  • Apparent Motion of the Sun
  • Objects in the Sky
  • Rotation and revolution
  • Sun Properties
  • Our Solar System
  • Space Exploration
  • History of Astronomy
  • Characteristics of the Planets
  • Spectroscopy

*Contact Leslie Barnhill at x7752 or lbarnhill@mesquiteisd.org for concepts chosen

5th Grade Classes

5th Grade Concepts

All shows at the Planetarium are flexible and can be custom made to suit individual teacher’s needs.  We have a lecture hall that can be utilized if multiple classes want to visit and team teach with lessons taught by teachers in the lecture hall while I am teaching in the dome. 

5th grade mini lesson options:

  • Characteristics of earth, moon, sun
  • Moon phases
  • Rotation and revolution of earth
  • Review of Shadows
  • Overview of Planets
  • Overview/Review and a new look at Planets 
  • Landforms and what causes them 
  • Lunar Rocks (need time to procure from NASA)
  • Fulldome presentations (pre-recorded videos) (I can now edit to show part of movie or entire movie)
    • Earth Moon & Sun 
    • Water Cycle video (usually shown in 4th grade)
    • Field Trip to the Moon
    • Back to the Moon for Good: Google Lunar XPrize (in the past, we only have shown the first 10 minutes before it progresses into the parameters of the Google competition)
  • Constellation and objects in current night sky
  • Q & A (something specific or general student questions of the day)
  • Astro Otter Fulldome Short Video Presentations (dated/two-dimensional animation, but excellently tied to the concepts)  
    • Apparent Motion of the Sun                                                                  
    • Objects in the Sky                                                                                    
    • Rotation and revolution                                                                         
    • Sun Properties                                                                                          
    • Our Solar System                                                                                     
    • Space Exploration                                                                                   
    • History of Astronomy                                                                              
    • Characteristics of the Planets                                                 
    • Spectroscopy                                                     

*Contact Leslie Barnhill at x7752 or lbarnhill@mesquiteisd.org for concepts chosen

6th Grade Classes

This year we would like to welcome all of the 6th grade classes to the Planetarium.  There are so many concepts that students can learn under the dome!  We made a few changes to make this possible.  With our new policies, the early bird catches the worm!  It is now on a first come first serve basis.  Teachers can choose and schedule the dates and times to bring their students, as long as those time slots are open.  So please, schedule your visit early in the year.  The window for 6th grade teachers to schedule their visit begins on September 18. 

6th Grade Concepts

All shows at the Planetarium are flexible and can be custom made to suit individual teacher’s needs.  We have a lecture hall that can be utilized if multiple classes want to visit and team teach with lessons taught by teachers in the lecture hall while I am teaching in the dome. 

Each bulleted item is based on the TEKS and can last from 5-15 minutes each.   Please try to choose 3-4 mini lessons and notify me, Leslie Barnhill, with your choices as soon as possible.  If you have no preference, I will gladly choose for you.

 6th grade mini lesson options: 

  • Layers of the Earth
  • Plate Tectonics (identification, movements of, and events caused by movements)
  • All Solar System components (properties, locations, and movements)
  • Galilean moons
  • Meteors, asteroids, and comets
  • Space Exploration: Past, Present and
  • Fulldome movie presentation (each about 20 minutes long):
    • The Astronaut
    • Two Small Pieces of Glass

       

  • Exit Ticket of some sort
  • Constellation and objects in current night sky
  • Q & A (something specific or general student questions of the day)
  • Astro Otter fulldome videoclips (dated/two-dimensional animation, but excellently tied to the concepts)       
    • From the Big Bang to the Solar System
    • Life Cycle of the Stars
    • Galaxies
    • Light Years
    • Organization of the Universe
    • Distances in Space
    • Phases of the Moon
    • Eclipses
    • Seasons
    • Tides
    • Motion of the Universe

*Contact Leslie Barnhill at x7752 or lbarnhill@mesquiteisd.org for concepts chosen

7th Grade Classes

All shows at the Planetarium are flexible and can be custom made to suit individual teacher’s needs.  We have a lecture hall that can be utilized if multiple classes want to visit and team teach with lessons taught by teachers in the lecture hall while I am teaching in the dome.  

7th Grade Concepts

7th grade mini lesson options: 

  • Tour of the Solar System Review (this can be either a quick tour or a longer more in depth tour – you choose)
  • What makes Earth habitable (distance to sun, atmosphere, water)
  • Look at other planets/moons that may be habitable in our Solar System
  • Discuss discovery of latest exoplanets that may be habitable
  • Manned space exploration and what it entails for man to travel in space (Apollo Missions, ISS, future travel to Mars)
  • Tour of the Universe (introduction to 8th grade)
  • Fulldome movie presentation of Oasis in Space
  • Exit Ticket of some sort
  • Constellation and objects in current night sky
  • Q & A (something specific or general student questions of the day)
  • Astro Otter fulldome videoclips (dated/two-dimensional animation, but excellently tied to the concepts)       
  • From the Big Bang to the Solar System
  • Life Cycle of the Stars
  • Galaxies
  • Light Years
  • Organization of the Universe
  • Distances in Space
  • Phases of the Moon
  • Eclipses
  • Seasons
  • Tides
  • Motion of the Universe

*Contact Leslie Barnhill at x7752 or lbarnhill@mesquiteisd.org for concepts chosen

8th Grade Classes

8th Grade Concepts

All shows at the Planetarium are flexible and can be custom made to suit individual teacher’s needs.  We have a lecture hall that can be utilized if multiple classes want to visit and team teach with lessons taught by teachers in the lecture hall while I am teaching in the dome. 

Mini-Lessons (facilitator created and guided real-time):

  • Seasons (Including day/night and insolation)
  • Lunar Cycle with student created diagram
  • Lunar Misconceptions
  • HR Diagram in the night sky with star size comparison
  • Star size comparison
  • View of universe from small to big (including stars, nebulae and galaxies), including flying through a nebula
  • Use of Electromagnetic Spectrum in space and how it’s done
  • Use of light years to measure distances of stars in our night sky
  • Earth’s plate tectonics: history, movements, and features they cause 
  • Satellite views of landforms and students describe what caused it 
  • Ocean’s cause of hurricanes (short)
  • Tides (position of Sun, Earth and Moon) 
  • Constellation and objects in current night sky
  • Q & A (something specific or general student questions of the day)


FullDome Presentations (pre-recorded videos) (I can now edit to show parts of movie or entire movie)         

  • Stars: Powerhouses of the Universe
  • Fly through a Nebula 
  • Black Holes
  • Field Trip to the Moon
  • Monsters of the Cosmos (3 minutes)
  • Journey to the Center of the Universe (6 minutes, good, but can be slow)
  • Astro Otter Fulldome videoclips
    • From the Big Bang to the Solar System
    • Life Cycle of the Stars
    • Galaxies
    • Light Years
    • Organization of the Universe
    • Distances in Space
    • Phases of the Moon
    • Eclipses
    • Seasons
    • Tides
    • Motion of the Universe


 *Contact Leslie Barnhill at x7752 or lbarnhill@mesquiteisd.org for concepts chosen

High School

While the Mesquite ISD Planetarium primarily has seen Elementary and Middle School students, I hope to see High School students as well. I realize that there is usually a scheduling conflict with visiting the Planetarium, but we are open to trying and doing new things here to expand our audience. If you choose to come to the Planetarium, I will work with you to provide a personalize show for you and your students.

If you ever have any questions or suggestions, please contact me at lbarnhill@mesquiteisd.org.