Mini Grants

In June of 2020, the PPA created the mini grants program in response to negative impacts the Covid-19 pandemic had on planetariums. We awarded ten grants of $500 and $400. The 2020 mini grant program was successful as reflected in the reports from the 10 mini grant recipients. PPA continues this program.

The 2022 Mini Grant recipients:

  • John Erickson, The Lawrence Hall of Science, Berkeley, CA: Design and produce battery powered pointers and illuminated clipboards with variable brightness and usb recharging. Designs will be published for use by any planetarium.

  • Emily Peavy,ʻImiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaiʻi, Hilo HI: Create and support planetarium content in a collaborative effort entitled A Hua He Inoa (to call forth a name) that weaves traditional indigenous practices into the process of officially naming astronomical discoveries.

  • Levanah Jen Lauxman Lutin, Space Travel Dome and Orion Planetarium, Jacksonville FL: Working with the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind, use a swell form machine / thermal paper fuser to create raised touchable images and diagrams to teach astronomy to blind and visually impaired. Possible projects include raised touch diagrams, braille, 3D printed night skies, the “smells” of space as developed for NASA, sonification of astronomical images, sounds of transmissions from various objects.

Donate to the PPA Mini Grants program.
Use the above donation button or see home page for check-sending info.

PPA Mini Grant Guidelines and Requirements

The PPA accepts applications for mini grants to planetariums. The PPA is the community of planetariums in Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. Though any planetarium can apply for a mini grant, priority is given to PPA members. See our membership page for how to become a PPA member.

The number of awards and their amounts are determined by the PPA Mini Grants Committee, based on several factors. Above all, each applicant must show a need for the grant and communicate a specific use for the funds. Factors considered in the selection process include applications that are in line with any goals of the PPA IDEA Committee and ones which promote more engagement within the PPA and the larger planetarium community.

A preliminary report summarizing the project is required within 8 months of when the grant funds were received. This period could be to up to 12 months if needed. The report shall include:

  1. how the mini grant funds were spent (items bought, services rendered, etc.),

  2. how the funded items/services were used in conjunction with other elements of the grant project,

  3. what impact, benefits to you and your audiences, and/or new insights the project has produced,

  4. anything else that might be of benefit to PPA members and the planetarium community at large.

After submission of the preliminary report, Mini Grant Committee members may make suggestions for improvement or ask questions for which answers may be included in a final submitted report to be posted on the PPA website Mini Grant Reports page.

Awardees are also invited to give a brief talk about the project at one of our (nearly) monthly Planetarians’ Zoom Seminars.

The 2022 application deadline was September 30, 2022, 11:59 PM PDT.

Mini Grant Application Form [not accepting applications at this time]


The 2021 Mini Grant recipients:

  • Keith Turner, Carmel Clay Schools Planetarium - Carmel, IN. Use of Funds: 1st grade teachers and students: monies to develop an introductory planetarium show about the Moon and how to observe it. I would like each elementary in our district to have kits with binoculars and a map of the moon that is large enough to hide images on for students to discover while viewing with binoculars from a set distance.

  • Jacqueline Benitez, Morrison Planetarium - San Francisco, CA. Use of Funds: The Pacific Planetarium Association mini-grant would help me attend the Live Interactive Planetarium Symposium (LIPS) in person at the Buhl Planetarium at the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. ...this conference is a perfect opportunity to learn, connect and explore with fellow planetarians. I will be applying to present how the Morrison planetarium produced live interactive virtual programs for students and families this past year while our museum was closed. I would look forward to sharing what I learned at LIPS with the PPA community in a monthly PPA Zoom seminar.

  • Rosemary Walling, Marie Drake Planetarium - Juneau, AK. Use of Funds: The money will go primarily toward the purchase of a 360-degree camera with remaining funds, if any, available for purchasing existing media and imagery or for consultations with technical and local cultural specialists. Our goal is to integrate Marie Drake Planetarium use with Southeast Alaska place-based curriculum, indigenous stories, Alaska climate change awareness, and other community interests. The work will be done by volunteers working with the school district and other community groups. We found that the simple case of providing a landscape, recognizable to Juneau school children, allowed them to focus more on questions about the sky.

PPA Mini Grant Committee:

  • Jon Elvert

  • Alan Gould

  • Andy Kreyche

  • Karl von Ahnen

The 2020 Mini Grant recipients:

  • Aaron Slonecker - Thomas Planetarium/Anchorage Museum - Anchorage, AK — Student memberships in an online astronomy club, using Slooh to operate remote telescopes while learning about astronomical objects and concepts within a supportive community.

  • Alice Few and Hillary Stephens - Pierce College Science Dome - Lakewood, WA — New program for elementary and middle school students working in teams to research, develop, and design a sustainable 3D habitat on either the Moon or Mars.

  • Eric Edelman - Jim and Linda Lee Planetarium - Prescott, AZ — Purchase of supplies for free virtual demonstrations and activities to K-12 students.

  • Erin Steinert - Bechtel National Planetarium/Columbia Basin College - Pasco, WA — Development of Covid-safe lobby displays that engage visitors' minds but are “hands-off.”

  • Luis Trumper - Planetario Digital Carl Sagan - Paraná, Entre Rios, Argentina — Investment in resources to facilitate online teaching during school closures.

  • Nico Van der Merwe - Sutherland Planetarium - Sutherland, South Africa — Upgraded equipment to create and share planetarium content featuring southern skies.

  • Noel Hensley - Flandrau Science Center & Planetarium/University of Arizona - Tucson, AZ — Funding of tools for university students to create digital resources supporting K-12 students.

  • Patty Seaton - Howard B. Owens Science Center - Lanham, MD — Creation of an interactive program around a cultural story featuring a live actor (in collaboration with fellow planetarian Elizabeth Bracey of the Franklin Park Arts center in Purcellville, VA).

  • Richard Nolthenius - Cabrillo College Planetarium - Aptos, CA — Planetarium modernization to allow for new content and an improved experience.

  • Shimonee Kadakia - El Camino College - Torrance, CA — Additional equipment for use in presentations; outdoors during Covid and indoors later on.