Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium
The Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium is much more than Northern New England’s museum of natural history — it is a place to marvel at the wonders of our world. Perfect for families and visitors of all ages, the Fairbanks Museum invites you to explore your universe.
Inside our classic Victorian building, you’ll find a dazzling array of animals and artifacts, dolls and tools, shells and fossils, and much more! Take a trip through the cosmos in Vermont’s only public planetarium, and see weather forecasts in the works in our Eye on the Sky Weather Gallery. A full calendar of events, workshops, lectures and field programs invites everyone to explore the nature of our world.
Inside, our collections include some 175,000 objects:
- 75,000 natural science specimens (mounted birds, mammals, reptiles and fish; insects; nests and eggs; shells; fossils; rocks and minerals; herbarium)
- 95,000 historical artifacts (tools; toys; dolls; textiles; weapons; archival photographs and documents)
- 5,000 ethnological items representing Oceania, the Near East, Africa, Egypt, Japan and native North America.
The only public planetarium in the state of Vermont opened in 1961 and continues to offer guided tours of the cosmos every week.
Discover … Explore … Experience … Inspire …
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We have prepared a wondrous array of curriculum guides to help teachers and parents create activities within the Museum and beyond its walls. Our aim is to inspire curiosity and self-directed learning, so that children become life-long naturalists, always interested in the world around them.
The Museum’s learning experiences take place in our awe-inspiring galleries, state-of-the-art Lyman Spitzer Jr. Planetarium, Nature Classroom, classic learning hall and outdoor space.
The Museum’s Education team is ready to work with you and your school to help your students engage in active learning that excites them. Our curriculum guides are designed to meet VT State Standards.
The Museum is a fabulous and memorable destination for field trips! Let us help you plan this excursion.
|Your class or group can come to the Museum for a field trip or for repeated learning experiences. Fees include 1 FREE chaperone for every 5 students.Choose from the following program options:
It is easy to take the Sun for granted. After all, it NEVER fails to shine, even if the clouds get in the way. Recently, better technology has permitted astronomers to observe the Sun in great detail, revealing much more about the Sun. It also shows many things we don’t know about the Sun. While the Sun’s steady nature makes life on Earth possible, changes in daily, seasonally, and long-term solar activity affects our atmosphere, our satellites, and life on the Earth.
Students will learn to safely view the Sun, weather-permitting, and will observe (live or through images) details on the Sun’s surface. Students will analyze data to discover patterns of solar activity, and then discuss the possible affects of the Sun on the Earth, including recent information about decreased solar activity.
NGSS: ESS1.A, ESS1.B, PS3
Does sound cause movement?
Does movement make sound?
How does sound travel through the air?
Discover the properties of sound while making some of your own sounds. Develop basic musical instruments to test your observations. Using tools and ourselves, we will discover what makes sound and what does not. By the end we will solve the problem of how to use our bodies to demonstrate how sound traverses distance.
NGSS: 1-PS4-1, 1-PS4-4
Werewolves, Vampires and Zombies!
Parasites and Poisons that can control our minds!
Although there are no supernatural monsters in this lesson, we will explore the ways in which real parasites have taken over their hosts, and how they may have inspired monster myths! Have you ever wondered what happens to a person who contracts rabies? Could parasites be responsible for some people’s reckless and dangerous behavior? Could toxins and poisons in nature cause people to behave like monsters themselves? This lesson is ideally suited for Third Grade through Middle School students.
NGSS: 3-LS4, 4-LS1, MS-LS1, MS-LS2, MS-LS3, MS-LS4
Have a Ball!
What goes up must come down, but that law of motion doesn’t mean all objects travel on or through all surfaces the same.
Your students need only bring their innate curiosity and their creative and critically thinking minds to be ready for this class!
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Delve into our Solar System and beyond in the Lyman Spitzer, Jr. Planetarium!
Planetarium experiences can expose your students, club members or community group to the stars and constellations, our moon, the planets, even concepts like orbits and gravity.
- Our Solar System
- American Indian Star Stories
- Tonight’s Skies
- The Moon
- Mythology and the Stars
Plan your visit to the Lyman Spitzer Jr. Planetarium
Our staff meteorologists, the voices of the Eye on the Sky weather broadcasts, are also our weather educators.
What better source could there be for learning about the science behind weather and climate!
Introduction to Weather Instruments
What kinds of tools does a weatherperson use to measure what’s going on in the air? How do they work? Thermometers (liquid and bimetallic), anemometer, wind vane, barometer, psychrometer and rain gauge are explained and passed around for close inspection. A brief trip to the Weather Center and the Instrument Shelter closes the time.
Duration: 50 minutes, flexible for K (can include Weather Center/Instrument Shelter).
Suitable for grades K-3
Weather Center and Instrument Shelter
The title says it all! A guided view of the Northern New England Weather Center, including instruments and telecommunications equipment; then a quick trip to the Instrument Shelter for an explanation of its workings.
Before computers, The Weather Channel, even the Old Farmer’s Almanac, forecasting the weather was a do-it-yourself project. And so, through hundreds of years of observing the weather, reliable signs were compiled and passed on, becoming those quaint country quips like when the cows lay down at midday, rain in on the way. Yet most, if not all of these bits of weather wisdom work. A look at the sayings, the science behind them, and a way for you to use them to forecast your own weather.
Appropriate for all ages.
How Do We Make a Forecast?
A day in the Life of a Meteorologist
An explanation of the process of making a weather forecast. We cover everything from taking local observations; through mapping regional, national, or hemispheric observations and using satellite imagery; to using computer model output. By the end your students should have a good understanding of how a meteorologist organizes his or her thoughts when faced with the task of figuring out the weather from 2 hours to 2 weeks into the future.
Best for Grade 4 & up.
Weather a la Carte!
These lessons could be presented one of two ways:
- A short lesson focusing on one of four topics, with a “hands on” activity to follow, or,
- A longer lesson focusing on one of four topics, with follow up materials provided for your class to conduct “hands-on” experiments back at school.
Suitable for students from Kindergarten to the third grade.
FairBanks Museum and Planetarium Hours
Summer Hours (April – October)
Monday – Saturday, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Sunday, 1:00 – 5:00 PM
Winter Hours (November – March)
Monday – Saturday, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Sunday, 1:00 – 5:00 PM
Tuesday – Saturday, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Sunday, 1:00 – 5:00 PM
We are CLOSED on the following holidays: New Year’s Day, Easter, July 4th, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
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Senior citizens and children under 17: $6.00
Children under 5: free
Family (immediate family members only) up to 2 adults, no limit on number of children: $20.00
These local communities contribute to the Museum through municipal appropriations and all residents can enjoy free admission anytime: St. Johnsbury, Barnet, Burke, Danville, East Haven, Granby, Kirby, Lyndonville, Newark, Peacham, Sheffield, Stannard, Sutton, Walden, Waterford, Wheelock
Discount or free admission with your membership card from our affiliate organizations:
- Association of Science and Technology Centers
- American Association of Museums
Planetarium Presentations (50 minutes):
Saturday & Sunday, 1:30 PM throughout the year
Additional Summer Planetarium
Presentations (July – August):
Monday – Friday, 11:00 AM & 1:30 PM
Planetarium presentation: $5.00
The planetarium has room for groups up to 45 people. Please call ahead to reserve space for groups. Reserved tickets MUST be claimed at least 15 minutes before the scheduled presentation.
FairBanks Museum and Planetarium Memberships