A small group of explorers stands beneath an open dome of night sky as pinpricks of starlight glitter against the expanse's dark blues and blacks. Each spot of light even seems to look much clearer from here—likely because the group is standing 9,157 feet above sea level. At the Stewart Observatory inside Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter at the mountain's summit, scientists guide visitors through the use of gear such as a 32-inch Schulman telescope—the state's largest public viewing telescope—to probe the far reaches of space to learn about celestial phenomena and take in magnified images of the universe just above.
Days and nights at the center bring a slew of learning experiences to budding astronomers. Accompanied by University of Arizona scientists, Discovery Days lead explorations of topics such as tree rings, hummingbirds, and meteorology, frequently beckoning students into the surrounding outdoors. During nightly SkyNights programming, groups summit Mt. Lemmon for a five-hour evening of dining and stargazing at the observatory. One-on-one time with heavenly bodies comes courtesy of Astronomer Nights, wherein site staffers grant singles or pairs lodging, private access to the Schulman telescope, and the chance to contribute directly to the field upon discovering a supernova, nebula, or handlebar mustache on the man in the moon.
Periodically, the scientific team also expounds on specific topics, such as digital celestial imaging, with the public in multiple-day workshops. Each participant builds on the Stewart Observatory's list of achievements since 1970, which include furthering infrared astronomy, surveying the moon for Apollo lunar landings, and searching for near-Earth asteroids.
Located on the University of Arizona’s campus, the Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium opens the eyes of all ages to the scientific wonders of our planet, solar system, and universe. The center houses a mineral collection that dates back to 1892, and now holds more than 26,000 specimens including meteorites and minerals from Arizona, Mexico, and elsewhere in the world. They also feature exhibits such as an exploration of Arizona’s Sky Islands—mountains that rise above the desert basins and shelter myriad plants, birds, and animals. Other exhibits include Mars: Up Close and Personal, which features a scale model of the red planet’s surface.
Swim Girl, Inc. teaches young tadpoles a valuable life skill and athletic activity that will keep them in shape and out of sharks throughout their lives. Parents can be assured that swimmers will learn important water safety skills from pre-screened swim instructors, who are certified through the National Swim School Association in swim instruction, and the National Red Cross in CPR, first aid, lifeguarding, and giving world-class high-fives. All instructors boast State of Arizona Preschool Licensing, and each staff member receives an observation and evaluation every four-week session. Future Michael Phelps record-breakers are evaluated by age, physical size, strength, abilities, gill possession, and desire before being placed in one of 10 class levels that will nurture their Neptunian efforts. Students and parents receive regular progress reports and assessments, as well as an underwater photo and certificate of completion for each session. Please see the schedule to plan your progeny's life aquatic.
A nationally renowned tutoring program, Sylvan Learning utilizes a personalized tutoring approach to develop students of all ages and abilities into perceptive pupils. During the initial visit, children will partake in one subject test that highlights trouble areas and serves as a base line for future progress. An erudite educator then leads four one-hour tutoring sessions tailored to young minds' particular needs in subjects such as math, reading, writing, and the ethics of alligator wrestling. Fledgling polymaths can use their customized tutoring sessions to prepare for future algebra tests or fine-tune study skills to get a head start on memorizing next year’s phone book.
Admission is normally $18 for adults, $10 for children ages 6–17, and $14 for students and seniors over 55. Children under 5 are admitted for free. The museum is closed Tuesday and Wednesday. Click here for a schedule of Science Downtown's hours.