Morehead Planetarium and Science Center is planning an event to embrace the goal of creating a more inclusive environment at both the Morehead Planetarium and at UNC. The Autism Awareness Evening, which is designed for children with autism spectrum disorder, their families and any support staff, will take place on April 12 from approximately 5:30 to 8 p.m.
The event will consist of the playing of the "Earth, Moon and Sun" show in the GSK Fulldome Theater, a show on the science stage and oobleck sensory engagement.
The playing of the traditional Morehead theater show will be altered to create a more comfortable and inclusive environment for its guests. The sound will be lowered to accommodate the children and prevent any trauma that could be caused by the loud noises, and the lighting will be adjusted so it is not entirely dark. These modifications will be done in hopes of making the planetarium a more accessible space.
The guests will be split into two groups: one watching the show in the Fulldome theater and one doing a sensory activity. Then, the groups will switch. There will also be a designated area for coloring and a cool down area for the children.
Senior Nicole Moore is a programming intern at the Morehead Planetarium that has been involved with performing research on how to best make the planetarium an inclusive place for children with autism. She has reached out to other museums and organizations, such as the Museum of Life and Science in Durham and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh, to become familiar with how other establishments cater their operations to an audience with specific needs.