Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

REDESIGNING DISCOVERY ; Clay Center Planetarium Named for Caperton

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

REDESIGNING DISCOVERY ; Clay Center Planetarium Named for Caperton

Article excerpt

The Clay Center has renamed its giant screen film and planetarium theater the Governor Gaston Caperton Digital Dome in honor of the former governor who led a partnership that recently donated $1 million to the center's Full STEAM Ahead Campaign to bring hands- on, high-impact educational exhibits and activities to West Virginia's children and families. The donation brings the Clay Center to within $2.5 million of a $14 million fundraising goal to pay for a complete redesign and transformation of the center's Avampato Discovery Museum and to fund a newly created Exhibit Renewal Endowment to maintain and refresh future exhibits.

The Caperton Digital Dome, formerly known as the Electric Sky Theater and Planetarium, was recently digitalized, greatly enhancing the spectrum of programs and activities available to visitors.

"We can link up with science centers and planetariums across the country to offer more programs and have better access to age- and grade-specific programs, said Kathy Bush, the Clay Center's chief development officer. "If a school class is studying, say, Jupiter, we can show the planet and its moons and customize the experience to fit the classroom.

"We can do so much more now, said LeAnn Cain, the center's public information officer. "We can zoom in on planets and satellites, show what the night sky looks like on your birthday, and travel through our galaxy to galaxies far, far away.

The new Digital Dome also makes it possible for guests to swoop and glide over erupting volcanoes, plunge to the depths of the ocean and view other Earthbound points of interest.

The Caperton Digital Dome's transformation is part of the Full STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) Ahead Campaign, which has also made possible the planning now underway for the first phase of a totally re-imagined transformation of the 16,000-square-foot Avampato Discovery Museum to include a mock town in which children can play roles ranging from veterinarian to diner cook. …

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