McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center

2 Institute Drive, Concord, NH 03301, United States
(603) 271-7827 (W-F 8 AM-5 PM)(603) 271-7827 (W-F 8 AM-5 PM)
(603) 271-7832

Hidden in Concord, New Hampshire is the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center. An educational journey to this Discovery Center is sure to appeal to anyone and everyone. The Discovery center offers has an amazing collection of innovative, interactive exhibits to explore engaging in anything from into the exploration in astronomy, aviation, earth and space science.

Visitors can finds themselves immersed in a world of its own delving into an excellent learning environment with programs designed for all ages! With a state of the Planetarium theater to high tech observatory to workshops for younger audiences and educators, there is something for everyone at this Discovery Center in Concord, New Hampshire. Come Experience New England’s premier Space Science and Air Center. 

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School-Year Visits (October-June)

Are you ready to give your students an exciting field trip adventure? Then please consider a trip to the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center. We are now booking for the 2013-14 school year! School visits start October 16, 2013.

We offer several school visit experiences for your students, no matter what their grade or interest level:

  1. A 90-minute theater experience which includes a pre-show demonstration, a multi-media planetarium show of your choice, and time to explore the exhibits. These experiences begin at 9 AM, 10 AM, 11 AM and noon Wednesday-Friday. Theater seats 103.AND/OR
  2. A 90-minute discovery experience. These interactive, hands-on experiences foster critical thinking, teamwork, and problem solving while targeting multi-disciplinary skills. Each experience relates to one of our new exhibits and goes more in depth providing hands-on experiences students are sure to enjoy! These experiences begin at 9:15 AM and 11:15 AM Wednesday-Friday. 100 students per experience max. Two week advance registration required.

School Offerings
The cost for your school visit experience is $5 per student.
One free Chaperone for each 10 students.
Additional Adults are $5 each.

At least 10 participants or a minimum of $50 is required to book a school visit.

You can book more than one experience during your visit! Additional experiences are an additional $3 per student and additional adult.

Time: please be on time! We have a lot to accomplish together during your field trip. We often book several groups at a time, so arriving late will shorten your students’ program and may disrupt other schools’ programs.

Buses: please follow the signs to the School Entrance. After dropping off passengers, the buses can then park in the bus spaces along the road at the rear of our parking lot.

Lunch: if you plan to eat lunch here, please have your students and chaperones bring bag lunches. Your group can gather for lunch outdoors at our picnic tables on nice days, and in the Unitil Program Center when the weather is less cooperative! Your lunch schedule is based on your program time:

  • 9 AM experience – lunch from 10:30-11 AM
  • 9:15 AM experience – lunch from 11-11:30 AM
  • 10 AM experience – lunch from 11:30 AM-12 PM
  • 11 AM experience – lunch from 12:30-1 PM
  • 11:15 AM experience – lunch from 1-1:30 PM
  • 12 PM experience* – lunch from 12-12:25 PM

* Note: students for the noon experience must arrive by 11:30 AM.

Chaperones: One chaperone is required for every ten students. We expect the chaperones to play an active role in supervising the students. Please let the chaperones know their role before the trip. Your students will get the most out of their field trip if they are in an environment that encourages learning. Please assign each chaperone ten students to supervise and ensure that the chaperone stays with his/her students throughout the visit, and plan for chaperones to file in and sit among your students in the theater. Older students cannot be chaperones.

Science Store: Visit the Northeast Delta Dental Science Store and plan time to shop while you are here. We stock items in all price ranges, including pencils, glow-in-the-dark stars, astronaut ice cream and books on the planets, and we are particularly sensitive to the needs of students on field trips with limited money. For your convenience, after making purchases, students can sign their name on their bags and we can store them in a box for you until you return to the bus. Revenues from the Science Store support the offerings of the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center.

Thank you for partnering with us to make a great visit!


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Can’t come to us? We can come to you!

We will adjust the content of any of the following programs to suit your students’ grade level. These programs actively involve your students in exciting, enjoyable learning experiences. Some programs involve hands-on activities for every student. Others utilize volunteers from the audience. We will be happy to answer questions after each show. Name a topic in space science and we’ll deliver a program to your students in a fun and educational way!

Traveling Planetarium

Traveling Planetarium

In our portable, inflatable planetarium, we offer a variety of shows to choose from for groups of 30-40 students at a time:

Tonight’s Sky – our educators can customize a show about the constellations and the night sky. Great for all ages.

Ice Worlds – visit the two poles of Earth and the icy landscapes of our solar system. For grades 5-8.

Infinity Express – take an exciting journey of discovery to explore our solar system, includes breathtaking images from the Hubble Space Telescope. For grades 4-12.

The Amazing Telescope – A dynamic look at the development and types of telescopes from Galileo’s time to the high-powered observatories of today. For grades 7-12.

Impact Earth – What are the differences between asteroids, meteors and comets? Learn how these objects are discovered and how potential impacts might be deflected. For grades 5-8.

Requirements: 25-foot square area and a minimum of 15-foot ceiling clearance, with no obstructions.

Cost: $250, plus round-trip mileage from Concord for one session. Each additional same-day session is $125 with a maximum charge of $600 for five sessions, plus mileage.

Session length: 30-40 minutes.

Educator Demonstrations:

Educator demonstrations are designed for the classroom and ideal for no more than 60 students to maximize visibility. Demonstrations can be modified for more students with advance notice.

ISS – Living and Working in Space:

Using exclusive NASA videos and a variety of visual and hands on demonstrations, students will learn how astronauts live and work in space while answering questions like: What is it like to live in space? How do astronauts adjust to microgravity? What are the astronauts doing in space? Recommended for grades 1-6.

Planet Hunter:

In this interactive science theater presentation, students learn about the planets in our solar system and how scientists and engineers find planets orbiting other stars. Recommended for grades 1-5.

The Comet show:

Explore what a comet is made of and where they come from through interactive and exciting activities and demonstrations. This demonstration’s grand finale involves a student volunteer making a spectacular model of a comet using dry ice, syrup and cookies. For Grades 1-8.


We will bring our telescopes to your event during the day for solar viewing or at night for viewing stars, planets and other objects in the night sky. If requested this program can also include presentations about how telescopes work, why dark skies are important and what the beginner should look for in purchasing a telescope.

Cost: $175 per hour per educator plus round-trip mileage from Concord, NH for the first session, plus $125 for each additional session


Mini Paper Rocket Workshop

In this workshop, participants will be guided through the engineering challenge of designing a paper rocket. We will explore common aeronautical questions like: how do planes fly and how can rockets fly so high. Then participants put their new knowledge to the test as they construct a paper rocket and use our air powered launcher to send their rocket into the air. A well made rocket can go 200 feet or more!

Cost: $250 per workshop, plus round-trip mileage from Concord, NH for the first session, $125 for each additional session.

Recycled Rocket Residency

We will work with students in your classroom or after school program to design an air powered rocket out of recycled material. This program includes lessons about engineering and the principles of flight and rocketry. Students will experience firsthand the importance of planning and testing designs. This program is recommended for grades 3 and up. Each session is one hour long. Additionally, students will need to spend approximately 30-60 minutes in class or at home each day to build and modify their rocket. We offer two versions of this program, a 3-day program and a more in-depth 5-day program.

3 Day Program
Day 1: Demo Launch and Principles of Flight
Day 2: Why and How Engineers Test Their Designs – Wind Tunnel-Testing Students’ Designs
Day 3: Final Launch

5 Day Program
Day 1: Demo Launch and Principles Of Flight
Day 2: Why and How Engineers Test Their Designs – Wind Tunnel-Testing Students’ Designs
Day 3: Practice Launch 1/2 Power
Day 4: Famous Engineering Blunders – Additional Wind Tunnel Testing
Day 5: Final Launch

Cost: 3-day program $425 up to 30 children plus daily round-trip mileage from Concord, NH. 5-day program $675 up to 30 children plus daily round-trip mileage from Concord, NH. An additional class of 30 children can be added at $125 per class (no more than 4 classes per day)

Schedule Your Outreach!

To schedule an outreach or for more information, call Visitor Services at 603-271-STAR (7827).


Additional Information


Open daily 1-4 PM and 1st & 2nd Friday evenings 6:30-9 PM, weather permitting.

The observatory dome houses a Celestron 14″ Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope mounted on a Celestron PRO computerized mount with a wide array of filters, imagers and eyepieces that will enable you to experience the thrill of bringing faraway moons, planets, nebulae, clusters, galaxies etc. right into view, up close and personal. There is also a 100mm Lunt solar telescope, specially designed for observing the Sun in great detail with removable filters that allow for sunspots and other solar activity to be observed safely during the day.

Celestron 14 inch and Lunt 100mm telescopes

Downloadable Educator Resources Available Below

Location Images
Admisson and Location Hours

McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center

Space Center Hours of Operation

Thu-Sat 10 AM-5 PM

Sun 11:30 AM-5 PM

1st & 2nd Fri Nights of the month 6:30-9 PM

General Admission Prices:

FREE Basic and Plus Level members, children 2 and under:

$10 Adults

$7 Children (ages 3 to 12)

$9 Seniors (age 62 and up)

$9 Students (age 13 through college)

$7 Groups of 15 or more

Thursday and Sunday Senior Discount, two Seniors admitted for $9 (individuals and non-profit groups only)

Children under 13 must be accompanied by an adult.

Planetarium Show Tickets: 

FREE Plus Level members, children 2 and under $5/per person per show add-on to General Admission

Tickets sold until 10 minutes prior to show time. No late admission or re-admission to theater. The Discovery Center reserves the right to change shows and programming. MC and VISA accepted. Gift certificates available!


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