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Francis Malcolm Science Center Planetarium to Receive New Digital Projection System,

Forms Advisory Board


Fort Fairfield Journal, February 3, 2016

EASTON, Maine - The donation of a new digital projection system will launch The Francis Malcolm Science Center into the exosphere, enabling this beloved community resource to provide an array of exciting new educational programs for residents of Aroostook County and beyond!  The Science Center, home to the northern-most planetarium theatre in the continental United States, is pleased to announce it will receive a $38,500 contribution from Lili Nelms and her husband, Robert Ingram of Houston, Texas to underwrite the cost of the new system.

   “Our current optical mechanical system, installed in 1983, has served the Center well over the years, but has been eclipsed by today’s digital technology,” said Planetarium Director, Larry Berz. “We are grateful that these generous supporters are making this much-needed upgrade possible.” 

   “Visitors will experience a fresh and exciting, full dome, digital presentation in one of the County’s most popular attractions,” Berz stated, adding that the new system, engineered by ASH Enterprises of Richmond, Virginia, will come with several new programs. “We anticipate the installation of the digital projector will be complete by the end of March. Needless to say, we are excited and anxious to showcase this impressive new technology and use it to support our programming for students and the general public.”

   Along with the upgrade of the planetarium equipment, the Francis Malcolm Science Center is also making substantial changes to address their ongoing financial needs. “We are transitioning to a community-supported organization,” Berz explained. “We will pursue funding from public and private sources and individual donors through our newly created Galaxy of Stars capital campaign.

   Every contributor to the Galaxy of Stars campaign will be recognized with a bronze, silver or gold star which will be displayed on the walls of the Center’s lobby. In addition to receiving a star, the names of businesses and organizations will also be projected onto the planetarium wall before each presentation. The annual campaign is now underway with the goal of raising $120,000 to fund the Center's work through 2016. According to Berz, the campaign is off to a great start with the help of a matching grant.

   “Roger and Diane Libby of Mars Hill have offered to match the first $10,000 raised,” Berz said. “It’s that kind of support and commitment that lets us know that people really want to see the Science Center remain a vital community resource. We are grateful to everyone who has already contributed and invite others to join them as we reach for the stars and work toward our goal.”

   Supporters may give online through the Science Center's PayPal account, which can be accessed by visiting their website    

   Contributions may be sent by mail to: Francis Malcolm Institute, P.O. Box 186, Easton, ME 04740. For more information please call the Center at (207) 488-5451 or Larry Berz at (207) 999-6340.

   In addition to the new planetarium equipment and capital campaign, the Science Center has also announced the creation of an Advisory Board comprised of members from several surrounding communities. The board will provide guidance and assist the Center in achieving its educational and financial goals. Participating on the new board are: Larry Berz, Planetarium Director, Tricia Langner, FMI Administrator, Bryan Lawrence, Capital Campaign Manager, Roger Libby of Mars Hill, Phil Christensen of Fort Fairfield, Dottie Martin of Limestone, Elaine Hendrickson of Presque Isle, Tim Goff of Fort Fairfield and Luke Shorty of Limestone. Other volunteers lending their assistance to the Center include Gloria Towle of Easton, Kathryn Olmstead of Caribou, Eric Hendrickson of Presque Isle and Vaughn Martin of Easton.

To view a brief documentary video of the Francis Malcolm Science Center, click here.