Fernbank Science Center
Fernbank Forest was purchased from Z. D. Harrison in 1937 by a group of citizens who were interested in conserving and preserving the forest area for science education. In 1964 the Fernbank Trustees leased the forest for public and school use to the DeKalb County Board of Education, stipulating that the area be protected and maintained in as close to its natural state as possible.
Fernbank Forest is a tract of relatively undisturbed mature mixed-hardwood forest, a remnant of the type of forest vegetation that originally covered the Piedmont region of Georgia, including the Atlanta metropolitan
Fernbank Forest is used as a "living laboratory" throughout the year. During school hours, Fernbank Science Center biology and horticulture instructors offer a variety of scheduled programs in Fernbank Forest to visiting students. In the afternoons and on weekends, visitors can walk the one and a half miles of paved trails, accompanied by trail guides knowledgeable in such areas as tree identification, wildflowers, or forest ecology.
Science Center and Museum
The Science Center building was completed and dedicated in December 1967 at a cost of about $1 million, which was generated by a school bond issue. The Science Center now operates on a budget from the DeKalb County School System. In 2005 there were eighty-one employees.
In 1989 the special relationship between Fernbank Science Center and Fernbank Inc. was formalized in a public ceremony during which both groups were designated as Partners-in-Education. In October 1992 Fernbank Inc. opened the new 160,000-square-foot Fernbank Museum of Natural History.
Observatory and Planetarium
Since its opening in 1967, the Science Center's Jim Cherry Memorial Planetarium has attracted nearly 5 million visitors. As of 2004 the planetarium still ranks as one of the largest in the country. The German-built Carl Zeiss Mark V projector is the centerpiece of the facility and is used, along with more than 200 other projectors, to present programs written and produced by the planetarium staff.
The exhibit hall at Fernbank Science Center spans some 9,000 square feet and circles the planetarium's theater. Some of the highlights in the exhibit area include an Apollo 6 space capsule, moon rocks, georgiaites, animals of the Okefenokee Swamp, songbirds of the Fernbank Forest, rocks and minerals, and a live bee exhibit.
David A. Dundee, Fernbank Science Center
A project of the Georgia Humanities Council, in partnership with the University of Georgia Press, the University System of Georgia/GALILEO, and the Office of the Governor.