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Archive for Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Cosmosphere to expand space camp programming

Emphasis taken off catering to field trips

September 17, 2003

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— The Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center is restructuring to focus more on its growing space camp program and less on field trips.

Staffing changes have been made in an effort "to meet the needs of the new market we've got," said Jeff Ollenburger, the president and chief executive officer of the Cosmosphere. The museum is home to one of the more significant collections of American and Russian space artifacts in the world.

Field-trip attendance dropped 44 percent in the past five years, while that for the space camp increased by 120 percent in the same period. Last year, about 5,600 people attended space camps and paid about $144 each. In comparison, about 23,000 students came to the center on field trips, spending about $7.25 apiece.

Education director Joel Walker said the new plan had been taking shape during the last six months, after the Cosmosphere's board of directors asked the center to offer more "length experiential" space programming, such as overnight stays and weekend camps.

As a result of the shift, the center's education department has been retooled. The positions of two longtime Cosmosphere employees have been eliminated, and another employee quit when bosses began tinkering with her job.

The eliminated jobs were replaced by a new education coordinator position and the addition of another full-time educator to the existing team of four educators.

The new education lineup will allow the Cosmosphere to better address its burgeoning clientele, Ollenburger said.

"A lot of deliberation went into trying to build a department to meet the changing needs of our customers," he said.

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