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A Week in the United States
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David Gruber and Michele Wistisen
First-year winners: On left, David Gruber from Italy with Michele Wistisen at the Casper Planetarium in Casper, Wyoming

A Week in the United States


Two planetariums in the United States host a planetarium colleague from another country for A Week in the United States, an initiative that began in 2017. It is supported by IPS as an excellent opportunity for professional development and cultural exchange and offered under the auspices of the International Relations Committee.

Based on the long-running and successful An Astronomical Experience in Italy for an American Planetarium Operator, it is hoped that A Week in the United States will serve as a model for other countries to follow and, as the years pass, evolve into cultural and professional development exchange around the globe.

A Week with the GDP hosted by the Society of the German-Speaking Planetariums began in 2019.

Applications are requested from educators and/or astronomers who work with any of the various models of planetariums and who are comfortable making presentations in the English language.     

Sara Schultz and Ullar Kivila

From 2019, Sara Schultz, host, from the Minnesota State University Moorhead Planetarium, with Ullar Kivila from the Science Centre AHHAA in Tartu, Estonia

What to expect

The winner will:

  • Be asked to provide text of three lesson plan(s) with activities and stories.

  • Be asked to present a lesson of approximately 45 minutes in length; it can be about such traditional topics as daily motion, orienteering, latitude motion, solstices and equinoxes, constellations, mythology, and so on.

  • Be asked to make a public presentation. The presenter will provide an introduction with slides about their experiences in astronomy outreach and then present a lesson.

  • Receive a maximum of $1000 for transportation. Room and board will be provided. (The winner is welcome to extend the stay before or after their agreed-upon week, but additional expenses for tourist travel, hotel, and meals are their own responsibility.)

  • Need to be available for a minimum of one week.

  • Be asked to make presentations in a variety of venues. 

All lessons and presentations will be conducted in English. The preliminary text of the lesson is required so that teachers will have ample time to work with their students before the experience.

Be prepared to teach the lesson at either a basic or an advanced level. Some classes are extremely interested but do not know a lot of astronomy, and others have studied astronomy in depth. Like their counterparts around the world, students in the United States are interested in science and learning about other cultures, have a good sense of humor, and certainly display the usual excitement about the planetarium.

Culminating documentation

We request a final report be written by the winner which will include the text of the lesson, comments from the students, and impressions of the experience, and may be asked to make a presentation at their IPS Regional Affiliate’s conference. The report also may be printed in Planetarian.

Application Procedure: Annual Deadline is December 31

Applicants must send the following, along with a cover letter explaining why you wish to be considered for this experience.

  • Full name
  • Complete address
  • Birth date
  • Curriculum vitae
  • The text of three lessons (or variations of the same lesson), with activities and stories, which you would like to present to (1) students, (2) teachers, and (3) and the public.
  • A list of specialized vocabulary
  • Three mp3 audio recordings (of three minutes or less, on any astronomical topic, along with the English text), and
  • Any other relevant materials that you feel would strengthen your application.

Send your application to:

Susan Button
Quarks to Clusters
8793 Horseshoe Lane
Chittenango, New York 13037 USA  

A committee of judges composed of representatives from the host planetariums and IPS Regional Affiliates will review each applicant’s submission and choose the winners. Applicants will be notified of the committee’s decisions no later than February.


 By applying for this contest, you agree to release copyright of your original script and recordings and release the works under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License which makes your work public domain (

A Week in the United States is grateful for financial support provided by Ted Pedas, retired director of the Ted Pedas Planetarium at the Farrell (Pennsylvania) Area Schools.

Would you like to host a colleague? Learn more here

A Week in the US FAQ


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