Seminole State College of Florida’s planetarium, a Central Florida resource for more than 25 years, has a new name to match its new look.
About 75 Central Florida business and community leaders helped the College dedicate what’s now the Emil Buehler Perpetual Trust Planetarium at Seminole State College on Tuesday, June 18.
“Reach for the stars has a new meaning because of what the Buehler Trust made happen,” said Dr. E. Ann McGee, president of Seminole State. “The generosity of the Buehler Trust has transformed a vital part of our community and embodies the values of relationships, partnerships and giving back.”
Since 2001, the planetarium, located at the Sanford/Lake Mary Campus, has received donations from the Buehler Trust that, in combination with other grants and gifts, have totaled $350,000. The most recent grant of $153,000 allowed planetarium staff to purchase a camera with a fisheye lens that enhances the planetarium’s capabilities as a resource for other college departments, college and public school students and the community. Other renovations include new adaptable seating, new acoustic panels, and new carpet and paint.
A ribbon was cut on the new sign to symbolize the name change during the dedication.
“Without a doubt, this is the single biggest addition since we opened in 1987,” says Planetarium Director Derek Demeter, a Seminole State alum who went to his first show at the planetarium when he was 10. “The fisheye system has single-handedly transformed how our planetarium operates. We can use content from any discipline – earth science, oceanology, space science – and present it on the dome.”
The facility’s expanding mission includes a new, three-year Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) initiative for K-12 students. The updated Seminole Earth and Space Science series, which will launch in August, will cover all the space science and most of the Earth science standards set by the state of Florida.
In addition, the planetarium is partnering with Seminole County Public Schools to offer professional development in STEM subject areas for teachers.
Since the planetarium reopened in January, it has had more visitors than in any six-month period in its history, said Dr. Stephen Summers, associate vice president of the School of Arts and Sciences.
“We’re thrilled to have a facility that is leading the way in the use of innovative technology and re-imagining the very idea of what a planetarium can do,” Summers said.
The College plans to welcome more than 20,000 people, the majority of them K-12 students, to the planetarium this year, he said.
Among those in attendance at the dedication were: George Weaver, a trustee for the Emil Buehler Perpetual Trust; Dr. Walt Griffin, Seminole County superintendent; Florida Rep. Mike Clelland; and Lake Mary Mayor Dr. David Mealor.
The Emil Buehler Perpetual Trust was established in 1984 in memory of Emil Buehler, an aviation visionary, architect and engineer.
The planetarium offers a series of science shows for public, private and home-school groups of all ages. To schedule a show or for more information, please visit the Planetarium website.