March 28th, 2023
MANKATO, MN – The Mankato Area Foundation (MAF) announces a grant of $35,000 to the Mankato East High School Planetarium to support major technology upgrades.
For almost 50 years, Mankato East High School had the honor of providing a unique learning environment for students and community members to experience the solar system. Through a grant from the Mankato Area Foundation (MAF), the East High School Planetarium Center will now be one of the few high schools in the world to own a Spitz Star Projector.
David Burgess, the Director of the Planetarium and Astronomy program, summarized the upgrade, “Thanks to the generous gift from MAF, we will be able to provide an entirely new viewing and educational experience. The Spitz Star Projector has four times the resolution as the previous one had, and it includes three new programs that provide a variety of advanced views of the night sky.”
The dome of the facility is 40 feet high and 30 feet wide—providing a theater view of the sky. Annual activity in the planetarium includes high school astronomy classes and K through 8 field trips for District 77 and other districts throughout the state. The student-run high school Planetarium Production Club also provides regular shows for the general public. Approximately 15,000 people a year visit the planetarium.
“The planetarium experience has the unique ability to be the gymnasium of expanding minds,” said Burgess.
Donations from MAF assisted in funding the original facility and technology. This current gift is funded by the Kendall and Rod Meyer Fund, Page Jones Richards Family Fund, and the Thin Film Technology Fund, all held at the Mankato Area Foundation.
“We’re thrilled to be a long-time supporter of this unique educational experience for the school district. It only seemed appropriate to help provide an upgrade for the well-used and aging equipment, ” said Nancy Zallek, President and CEO of the Mankato Area Foundation, “We’re fortunate to have this gem in our community.”
About the Mankato Area Foundation
The Mankato Area Foundation is a donor-driven community foundation whose purpose is to improve the livability in Greater Mankato through philanthropy. Our community foundation connects donors with causes they care about, provides funding to address key community objectives and convenes individuals and organizations to find solutions for local challenges.