DESTINY Traveling Science Learning Program


What is DESTINY?

The DESTINY (Delivering Edge-cutting Science Technology and Internet across North Carolina for Years to come) Traveling Science Learning Program is Morehead Planetarium and Science Center’s formal science education initiative serving pre-college teachers and students across North Carolina.

DESTINY develops and delivers standards-based, hands-on science curricula, teacher professional development opportunities, and enriched learning for students who otherwise would not be able to experience what jobs in science, biotechnology, health and related fields may offer them.

Traveling throughout North Carolina year-round, DESTINY’s team of educators, along with Destiny and Discovery (two 40-foot, 33,000-pound buses, each fully equipped as a traveling science laboratory that can accommodate 24 students), bring effective science learning to students and provide strong support for teachers.

DESTINY was created by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2000 and has served thousands of North Carolina's teachers and students. It became a program of UNC's Morehead Planetarium and Science Center in 2006.

How is DESTINY Funded?

Our current principal funders are the State of North Carolina and GlaxoSmithKline, with additional support from Bio-Rad Laboratories.

Past funders have included the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) Program in the National Center for Research Resources, Medtronic Inc., the NC Biotechnology Center and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. IBM and New England BioLabs have provided in-kind support.

How Effective is DESTINY?

Since the program's inception, more than 260,000 students have been impacted by DESTINY's traveling science laboratories and innovative curriculum modules.

In the last two years alone, DESTINY:

  • Served more than 10,000 students through lab-based instruction provided by DESTINY educators on the traveling labs or in classrooms, with 270 school visits across North Carolina.

  • Trained more than 300 teachers in DESTINY professional development workshops. Participants included elementary, middle school, high school and community college educators teaching in North Carolina's classrooms.

The Science Education Crisis

DESTINY was created to address the science education crisis. Many of North Carolina’s secondary schools, particularly those in rural areas, lack access to resources that are essential for quality science education, resulting in:

  • Fewer students pursuing science careers
  • More science teachers leaving the profession
  • Economic development prospects declining for communities

DESTINY's Approach

Exterior view of DESTINY mobile science lab

DESTINY takes a multi-pronged approach to addressing science education needs:

  • Making science real and relevant for students, both on board the bus and in the classroom
  • Providing innovative, effective professional development for teachers
  • Providing pre- and post-lab materials and other resources that teachers need in their classrooms
  • Researching ways to create positive change in science education

DESTINY's Impact


  • Increases students’ interest and confidence with fun and practical learning experiences
  • Exposes students to hands-on science learning with professional-grade science equipment
  • Helps students learn science and perform better on N.C. end-of-course tests, SATs and AP exams
  • Provides opportunities for students to envision and pursue careers in science


  • Empowers teachers with new approaches and more resources to increase science learning
  • Offers an innovative, effective curriculum aligned with North Carolina Essential Standards
  • Provides professional development and classroom materials to teachers at minimal cost
  • Provides stipends, grantwriting assistance and other professional support as available

Schools and Communities

  • Links university expertise to school systems to strengthen educational opportunities
  • Provides interdisciplinary curricula and professional development programs to build school success
  • Provides a powerful visual image of what science classrooms can and should look like now
  • Supports school systems in cost-effective investment of their equipment and supply dollars

State and Nation

  • Contributes to a science-literate society
  • Increases diversity in science professions
  • Heightens public awareness of the importance of and funding necessary for quality science education
  • Strengthens the education foundation necessary for economic development and prosperity

To promote equity of access to quality science learning opportunities in order to increase interest, ensure understanding, and demonstrate the relevance of science to all students’ lives.

Through the creation and delivery of innovative approaches, DESTINY seeks to empower teachers, schools, and communities to transform science learning environments.

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