Solve a space mystery during “Operation: Intercept!” at Oakley STEM Center

thumb TTU_STEM_virt_thtr_Operation_Intercept_Marc_RobinsonAstronomy buffs can join a space shuttle crew and solve a galactic mystery during “Operation: Intercept!,” the newest show in the virtual theater at the Millard Oakley STEM Center at Tennessee Tech University.

Geared toward school-age children, “Operation: Intercept!” challenges audience participants to set a course toward a mysterious object sighted near Jupiter. Along the journey through the solar system, kids will learn about planets, the sun’s energy, asteroids and more. The audience can vote for different plots and approaches during the narrated, interactive, 30-minute show, learning different space and astronomy lessons along the way.

“Operation: Intercept!” opens Friday, Dec. 21, at noon at the Oakley STEM Center. Virtual shuttles will leave every half hour until 3:30 p.m.

“I very much enjoyed developing the new interactive addition to the virtual theater repertoire,” said coordinator and designer Marc Robinson, who guides the audience through the mission’s tasks. “Our virtual space travelers will enjoy a ride in a shuttle and help us solve a troubling question.”

As part of the premiere festivities, visitors can go to the Venus, comet and rocket rooms to map out the surface of Venus, study Venusian volcanoes, cook up a comet, or create and launch rockets.

“Our hands-on projects are designed to deepen the visitors’ understanding of concepts introduced during ‘Operation: Intercept!’,” said Gail Gentry, outreach coordinator for the Oakley STEM Center. “All ages can enjoy and experience activities in the Venus, comet and rocket rooms.”

The premiere of “Operation: Intercept!” is a flexible event, meaning visitors may come and go to the show and experiment stations. A parent or guardian must remain on-site with children at all times.

Admission is free, but reservations are required. For information and to make reservations, visit or call 931-372-6573.

The theater will close during the university’s holiday break, which begins Dec. 22. “Operation: Intercept!” will show Fridays at 4:30 p.m. beginning Friday, Jan. 18, 2013. “To the Edge and Back: A Tour of the Universe” will show at 4 p.m. Fridays. Admission is free.

The Oakley STEM Center is located in Ray Morris Hall on the campus of Tennessee Tech at 155 W. 7th Street, at the corner of 7th and Stadium Drive in Cookeville. The center offers programs that promote science, technology, engineering and mathematical education.