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October 30, 2012

State and local officials got a sneak preview of the new state-of-the-art planetarium inside Framingham State’s Christa Corrigan McAuliffe Center during a recent ceremony to celebrate the completion of renovations to the facility.

“The McAuliffe Center inspires thousands of children and instills within them an exciting thirst for knowledge,” said State Senator Karen Spilka, one of several legislators on hand who supported funding the renovation project. “This is so much more than a budget line item. It’s an investment in our children’s future, and our future.”

Framingham State’s Christa Corrigan McAuliffe Center has been supporting teachers and instilling a love of science in students since 1986. Nearly 13,000 students visit the center each year to explore the outer reaches of space in the planetarium or take a simulated voyage to mars in the full-size mockups of a space station and Houston’s Mission Control Room. These experiences often spark an interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) education.

“I can’t tell you how many students I talk to on campus who tell me their first memory of Framingham State was as a middle school student coming to visit the McAuliffe Center,” FSU President Timothy Flanagan said. “It’s critical we get more students interested and engaged in the STEM disciplines at an early age, because those are the areas of job growth in the Commonwealth. That’s a big part of what the McAuliffe Center is all about.”

The new planetarium projector, set to be installed in January, will offer higher resolution graphics and greatly expand upon the University’s program offerings.
In addition to exploring faraway planets and star systems, students will have the opportunity to take journeys underneath the ocean or through a human cell. 

The projector will also provide an opportunity for current Framingham State students to learn how to develop programs that can run on it, according to McAuliffe Center Director Mary Liscombe.

“We’ve already begun reaching out to professors to talk about the possibilities,” Liscombe said. “This is a really exciting opportunity for FSU students to do project-based learning. They will be able to take what they learn and create a program that can run on the projector.”

Other state officials who supported the McAuliffe Center renovation project and were on hand for the ceremony include State Senator Michael Moore, State Representative Tom Sannicandro and State Representative Chris Walsh.

The McAuliffe Center was named in memory of Framingham State Alumna Christa McAuliffe, the first teacher in space. The University was honored to have Grace Corrigan, McAuliffe’s mother, attend the ceremony.

“Christa loved this campus so much,” said Corrigan, who is a stalwart advocate for the teaching of the STEM disciplines to young students. “She’d be very proud of this facility.”

About Framingham State University

Framingham State University was founded in 1839 as the nation’s first public university for the education of teachers. Since that time, it has evolved into a vibrant, comprehensive liberal arts institution offering small, personalized classes on a beautiful New England campus. Today, the University enrolls more than 6,400 students with 53 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in arts, humanities, sciences, social sciences and professional fields. As a public university, Framingham State prides itself on quality academic programs, affordability, and commitment to access for all qualified students.

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Framingham State University

100 State Street

PO Box 9101

Framingham, MA 01701-9101

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Phone: 508-620-1220