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New Jersey To Get Largest Planetarium In Western Hemisphere

Liberty Science Center in Jersey City.
Liberty Science Center in Jersey City. Photo Credit: teachers.egfi-k12.org
Jennifer Chalsty
Jennifer Chalsty Photo Credit: jhu.edu

JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- The largest planetarium in the Western Hemisphere is coming to New Jersey thanks to a $5 million gift from a former teacher.

Liberty Science Center in Jersey City announces that former high school teacher Jennifer Chalsty of Short Hills will fund a new planetarium that will be named in her honor.

Her gift — the single largest gift that LSC has ever received from an individual — will provide for the conversion of the IMAX Dome Theater from film to digital, and the addition of software and hardware necessary for the theater to also function as a planetarium. The screen will be replaced and the entire theater refurbished.

The target date for opening the Jennifer Chalsty Planetarium is December 2017.

"I want to thank Jennifer for her tremendous generosity. She is a remarkable, caring individual who is committed to educating the next generation," said Paul Hoffman, LSC President and CEO. "My life has been enriched by my getting to know her through our work together at LSC."

Chalsty praised the work of the Center, and particularly its STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) educational programs serving children from underserved communities.

"As a former teacher, I know that education is life's great equalizer. I also know that if we hope to fill the tremendous need for more top quality STEM professionals, we have to start inspiring children and imbuing in them a lifelong love for these subjects. That is the mission of the Liberty Science Center and why I'm proud to support this great institution," she said.

She joined LSC's Board in 2004. When LSC expanded from 168,000 square feet to 300,000 square feet in 2007, her generous support made possible the creation of the 20,000-square-foot Jennifer A. Chalsty Center for Science Learning and Teaching.

The facility features a large forum, a 100-seat interactive theater, a computer learning room, and five laboratory classrooms including one designed for scientists ages 2-6.

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