The Science Center and Academy Campus is on the site of a former Nike Missile radar site. These sites protected the state in the 1950s and 60s. Radar and control systems were here; the missiles were in Simsbury. Twenty acres of land are available for student use. The ridge offers an unparalleled view of Connecticut and points as far as Mt. Everett at the NY/MA border, Mt. Tom in Holyoke, MA and Sleeping Giant in Hamden, CT. The ridge is invaluable for weather observations and astronomy, and houses observation points for both. The land to the north offers a unique combination of pioneer and mature forests for the study of local ecology, and the grounds overall provide a rich cross-section of plant and animal life on a basalt ridge between two glacial valleys.
Student Technology Center
The Student Technology Center houses offices, a television studio, planetarium, computer labs and conference facilities. Opened in 1990, it provides hands-on space for students to take on the roles of professionals in emerging and converging technologies. The design is a unique set of 20-sided Deltec buildings to better withstand weather and maximize space, and houses four dedicated spaces:
The Alan L. Bean Hypospherium is our multi-media tilted-dome planetarium, and at 44 feet is the largest “true” planetarium in the state. It houses a Spitz 512 star projector, Color Kinetics LED cove lighting with 16 million colors, a multimedia sound, slide and video system. Since 1990 it has provided a rich teaching environment for astronomy and much more. The dome is oriented true north/south and provides a high-fidelity model of the local stars and view from the ridge in all weather.
The Arnold L. Chase Student Communications and Technology Center provides a television production studio, editing suite and control facilities that tie to local networks for television and multimedia. Dedicated in 1997, it provided a quantum leap in production possibilities at Talcott and has been the cornerstone of our distance learning program through the National Science Foundation and the US Department of Education.
The Dr. Alvin B. Liftig Conference Room was dedicated to Talcott founder “Al” Liftig, who spearheaded efforts to establish TMSC as a member of the Avon Board of Education and later as a TMSC Board member, giving generously of his time and effort to making sure the “impossible dream” of Talcott became a reality.
The Steve Perlman HyperMedia Library and Conference Center was dedicated in 1998 to Steve Perlman, TMSC alumnus and West Hartford native. Steve started at an early age at Talcott, and was instrumental in several major research projects here at Talcott, providing groundbreaking technology dating back to the 1970s. He contributed to major advances at Coleco, Atari, Apple and founded WebTV, Moxi, Rearden Labs, MOVA video production and the OnLive gaming platform. Steve is Talcott’s biggest benefactor, contributing $1 Million of his profits from WebTV to support our programs. The HyperMedia library provides research space and content creation on iMac computers and iPads, and houses the Robotics labs for use in FIRST® and Trinity College contests.
The “Met Lab” is based on one of the original Army buildings, and houses classroom, lab and office space for weather and earth science. Internet, weather radar and remote instruments provide authentic data for students to take on the role of professional researcher and forecaster. It also houses 9 kilowatts of solar electric panels, which were sized according to an energy survey carried out by student researchers.
The Gabriel Science Laboratories, also known as the “middle” or “academy” building, was the Center’s first major expansion in 1972, quadrupling the available space in another of the original Army buildings. It incorporates general classroom space, our Art Room, and can be rigged as a photographic darkroom! It also houses a passive solar Trombe wall, as well as a deck available as an outdoor classroom. The lower level houses the Center and Academy’s health office.
Chronobiology / Green Energy
The “Chrono Building” was completed in 1978 and houses the Edgar Morton Brown Library, the Richard Manley Eastwood Science Wing, and the Project 2776 Time Capsule. The building was designed with alternate energy sources in mind, and incorporates no north-facing windows, wind buffers around all windows, filled concrete block construction with styrofoam and wood insulation. The solar thermal panels provide energy for the space heating system and hot water. Solar photovoltaics provide 10 kilowatts of electric power. The second floor was designed for students to carry out biological rhythm research, with plant and animal facilities, a greenhouse and isolation suite. The building provides “wet” labs for biology, chemistry and ecology as well as an additional computer lab for music and language.
Originally housing the Army’s radar facilities, this ridgetop building serves the needs of the telescopes and observatories, providing support for dozens of ‘scopes and a warm spot for remote use of our digital telescope and enabling year-round use.
Historically, this building has been the home for our seismometer, spectrometer, science kit production, darkroom, computer “mainframe” and offices. Currently it serves as the base of operations for our amateur radio facilities, allowing students to communicate with neighbors as close as the next town and as distant as the other side of the globe and even with astronauts on board the International Space Station. If you’re on the air, you can contact W1TMS, our school club!
At 946 feet above sea level, the sundial is a breathtaking teaching tool on several levels. In addition to an amazing view of 5,000 square miles, the elevation allows us to see weather and developing storms directly as well as via instruments. The sundial itself is the “sun” to our solar system model, the largest visible model known - you can stand on the sundial and see the positions of the scaled planets from Mercury at the end of our driveway to Pluto at the Otis Elevator tower next door to Lake Compounce and ESPN in Bristol. And, of course, it’s a sundial, using the motion of the earth to count the hours.
In addition to the sundial, the staff dedicated a stone outlook to Dr. Joseph Wenograd, a past dean of Arts and Science at the University of Hartford, and a key figure in the collaboration between Talcott and U of H, which remains to this day.
Talcott is home to two observatories that allow for the use of research-grade telescopes. The main observatory at the Talcott Mountain Science Center houses a 16 inch Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope. It has a focal length of 4,064 mm (160") yielding a focal ratio of f/10. Coupled with the telescope is a Starlight Express MX7C CCD camera.
The second observatory at the Talcott Mountain Science Center houses a 12.5 inch Tinsley Telescope. It is a classical cassegrain with a focal length of 4,877 mm (192"), and a focal ratio of f/16. It provides superb images of the Moon and planets.