Did You Know There Is A Planetarium Hidden In Rural Maine?
When you think of first rate science education centers in New England, you probably immediately envision Boston, right? If not Boston, you probably think of Portland. Or, maybe, Bangor. But, you would never immediately think of Aroostook County.
However, an amazing science center is exactly what you'd find in the small town of Easton, Maine.
The Francis Malcom Science Center, tucked away on Houlton Road in Easton, offers a variety of science programs for the public. In addition to the northernmost planetarium in the country, the science center also features an observatory with a retractable roof, and a 140 acre reserve used as an outdoor classroom. There are also display rooms and classrooms that given students a chance at a hands on education in physical science.
As a kid growing up in Aroostook County in the 1980s and 1990s, I remember my class trips to the science center being a highlight of each school year.
Funding for the science center, which opened in 1983, came from the legacy of Francis Malcolm. According to the science center's website, Malcolm was a native of Easton, Maine. After graduating from a local high school, he studied at Ricker College (in Houlton), Cornell University, and Columbia.
He spent his life working in in education in Vermont and Alaska. After retiring, he moved to California. He passed away in 1977.
The site goes on to say:
Upon his retirement from education, Francis moved to the state of California where he resided until his death in 1977. In tracing back through the life of Francis M. Malcolm, it becomes apparent that he was a strong humanitarian with a genuine fondness for the people of Aroostook County. Secondly, Francis Malcolm had a deep respect for his natural surroundings and he was an advocate of studies in natural history as part of the educational process. Through his will Francis M. Malcolm left Aroostook County a legacy that has touched the lives of many of Aroostook’s citizens.
Because of this love of education and his love of his home region, it was decided that money from his estate should be used to open a top notch science center with the purpose of educating the children of Aroostook County, Maine.
While it is a bit of a drive for most of the state's population, it is worth the trip!