Schools outreach is a common use for planetariums. Sometimes the children go to the planetarium; sometimes the planetarium goes to the children. Portable planetariums are almost always the cheapest option; there are still choices to be made.
Inflatable or Prefabricated?
This question could be rephrased as:
* How easy is the planetarium to set up and take down, and how long will it take?
* How many people will be available to do that work?
* How easily will the planetarium fit into the vehicle that will be used?
Who is Giving The Talk?
It’s a fact that:
* Most soundtracks in built planetariums are pre-recorded; and
* Most stories told in portable planetariums are told live.
It follows that the teacher or other person giving the show in a portable planetarium must be expert in the subject because:
* Some at least of the students will have at least a fair understanding; and
* Nothing turns students off as fast as the realization that they know more than the teacher.
What Electrical Service Will Be Available?
Before setting off for a new location, check their electricity supply and make sure that the equipment will work there. Otherwise, the trip may be wasted.
It is not simply a question of ensuring that the projection equipment chosen will fit in the portable dome and still leave room for people to sit and watch the show – not all equipment works for all dome sizes. Nor is dome size determined only by the amount of the budget (though that is certainly a factor) – the questions set out above, especially those dealing with the inflatable/prefabricated choice, also play a part, and so does the desired audience size. If most presentations will be at elementary schools where class size averages 30, and the dome is not capable of seating more than 25, an obvious problem arises.