Children and parents who visited the DuPont Planetarium Saturday night went on a special trip to outer space with several beloved Sesame Street characters.
USC Aiken’s current schedule of star-studded shows include “One World, One Sky: Big Bird’s Adventure,” which features Big Bird, Elmo and their friend, Hu Hu Zhu, who is visiting Sesame Street from China, as they use their imagination to travel to the moon and back.
The show, the first of three in the DuPont Planetarium’s current schedule since reopening July 10, is currently the most kid-centric as it creates an educational experience with familiar and entertaining characters, said Gary Senn, director of the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center where the DuPont Planetarium is located.
“We are interested in infusing a love for science, technology and mathematics for all ages,” Senn said. “We have purposely selected a variety of titles to include those that are great for younger and older children as well as adults.”
In addition to teaching about outer space, the show focuses on cross-cultural appreciation. During their imagination-fueled trip to the moon, Elmo and Hu Hu Zhu sang both an English and Chinese version of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” a classic song shared by children of all cultures, on top of their own cultural interpretation of “Hey Diddle Diddle” in which a rabbit is used in Hu Hu Zhu’s version of the nursery rhyme instead of a cow from the American rendition.
Ultimately, the show is an attempt to teach children and their parents that, no matter where people are in the world, they all ultimately share the same appreciation of the night sky.
For parents like Chris and Stacia Ballew, the message is a brilliant one for their science-enthused 5-year-old twin sons.
The Ballews have been homeschooling their sons, Connor and Aiden, and are constantly looking for fun and educational activities for them to engage in.
“We’re learning about planets right now, so (the show) was a good opportunity to come out here and learn (about space),” Stacia said.
Those who want to go to the moon with the Sesame Street gang can do so at the next shows on Aug. 22 and Aug. 29.
Tickets are $6.50 for adults, $5.50 for seniors and $4.50 for fourth-12th grade children. Interested parties are encouraged to book their seats in advance due to the USC Aiken following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for social distancing. Seats are disinfected between shows and visitors are required to wear masks.
“One World, One Sky: Big Bird’s Adventure” begins at 7 p.m. followed by “Engineering the International Space Station” at 8 p.m. and “Sunstruck” at 9 p.m.
Following each show, visitors will get a glimpse of what the night sky will look like and then can go to the rooftop to view the sky through the DuPont Planetarium’s telescopic projection.