Addressing the Science of Really Gross Things:
Engaging Young Learners in Biomedical Science
Through a Fulldome Show and Supporting Curricula

Morehead Planetarium and Science Center has been awarded a SEPA (Science Education Partnership Act) grant for the project "Addressing the Science of Really Gross Things: Engaging Young Learners in Biomedical Science Through a Fulldome Show and Supporting Curricula."

The primary objective of this project is to improve students' understanding of their bodies and their health. The primary audience for this project is students in grades 3-8.

Project Deliverables

The project includes the development of a new fulldome planetarium show based on the popular children's book "Grossology and You." Along with the planetarium show, Morehead will develop complementary curriculum materials for classroom use. The fulldome planetarium show and the curriculum materials will focus on the inner workings of the digestive, respiratory and immune systems.

Many members of the target audience are already familiar with the series of Grossology® books, written by educator Sylvia Branzei-Velasquez and illustrated by artist Jack Keely. These books take a lighthearted approach to the serious science of the human body.

For more than 10 years, an educational exhibit based on the Grossology® books has toured museums around the world. With the expansion of digital technology within the planetarium industry, it is now possible to feature science topics related to health and medicine within the unique fulldome educational environment.

Morehead is working with expert researchers and advisors in science and in education to produce the "Grossology and You" fulldome planetarium show. Upon its completion, it will be available for lease by other planetariums worldwide.

Accompanying the fulldome planetarium show will be complementary curriculum modules designed for museums and science centers. These curriculum modules will meet the unique needs of programming for summer science camps, Scouts and other youth groups, afterschool sessions and field trips. The curriculum modules wil be available for free download on this website.

In addition, Morehead will produce a supplemental video that focuses on career opportunities in biomedical sciences, building on student interest in the "Grossology and You" project materials.

Project Launch

The fulldome planetarium show "Grossology and You" is currently in production and is scheduled for release in summer 2014. Related curriculum materials will follow, with releases in 2014 and in 2015.

Project Leadership

Denise L. Young, Ed.D., is the project director for the fulldome planetarium show and the principal investigator for the associated NIH grant. Young is Morehead's director of education and planning.

Read Young's blog post about this new project.

Richard Superfine, Ph.D., is the co-investigator for the associated NIH grant. Superfine is the Taylor-Williams Distinguished Professor of physics and astronomy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is a research scientist who has received NIH funding for previous projects.

Listen to this NPR report about Superfine's approach to education.

Several other professionals play leading roles in developing the fulldome planetarium show and the other curriculum materials to be produced by this project:

  • Sylvia Branzei-Velasquez is the author of the book "Grossology and You."
  • Jack Keely is the illustrator of the book "Grossology and You."
  • Ric Boucher, M.D.; Samuel Lai, Ph.D.; Kay Lund, Ph.D.; and Alisa Wolberg, Ph.D. are a few of the research scientists and educators from UNC and other institutions who will be involved in creating and evaluating all educational materials produced through this project.

SEPA logo

This project, "Addressing the Science of Really Gross Things: Engaging Young Learners in Biomedical Science Through a Fulldome Show and Supporting Curricula," is supported by a Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA), Grant Number #1R25OD010522-01, from the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of NCRR or NIH.

This presentation and all related materials are based on the book "Grossology and You" published by Price Sloan Stern.

GROSSOLOGY® is a registered trademark of Penguin Price Stern Sloan, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.