HPU Professor and Students Create Online Planetarium and Classroom for Children

While local school children have frequently visited HPU’s Culp Planetarium throughout this academic year before the global pandemic, Barlow and his HPU students are now working to offer content online so children can continue to enjoy the Planetarium’s offerings.


High Point University’s Dr. Brad Barlow has created an online classroom for students and community children who are home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

HIGH POINT, N.C., April 2, 2020 – High Point University’s Dr. Brad Barlow, associate professor of astrophysics and director of the Culp Planetarium, and Erin Brady, planetarium manager, have created an online classroom for students and community children to access while they are home from school during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Anyone is encouraged to tune in by visiting the website, http://www.highpoint.edu/planetarium/public-shows/remote-outreach/.

The online classrooms from HPU’s Culp Planetarium include releasing flat-screen versions of some of the full dome movies, pre-recorded sky shows tailored to K-12 schools in the Triad region, producing other short videos discussing astronomical terms and other concepts, and announcing astronomical events the community can observe from their backyards.

HPU’s Dr. Brad Barlow, associate professor of astrophysics and director of the Culp Planetarium, has created an online classroom for his students and community children to access while they are home from school during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is important to reach our students and youth in the community to keep them learning and engaged during these challenging times,” says Barlow. “We found a way to add images of local schools, like Montlieu Academy of Technology, Kirkman Park Elementary and others, to our astronomy software, so kids can visit them virtually while staying home and see what the stars would look like.”

Barlow is currently teaching a Planetarium Operations course to his undergraduate students where they learn how to maintain, operate and produce planetarium shows. The work usually focuses on giving live shows, but students are learning new software so they can script, record and share planetarium shows remotely.

“We shipped them special laptops so they can use the same software that is installed in the Culp Planetarium and continue to create shows,” explains Barlow. “This software allows them to manipulate the daytime and nighttime sky however they like, record their movements, and add a narration.”

Barlow says their first assignment is to make a remote video version of the last planetarium show they gave in person.

“These students have stellar resumes because of the traditional planetarium skills they’ve gained,” says Barlow. “But now they can add to it an online portfolio really showing off their ability to communicate science to the masses.”

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