- Rowan-Salisbury School System
- Horizons Unlimited
- Accountability Services
- Academically & Intellectually Gifted (AIG)
- Arts & Physical Education
- Career & Technical Education (CTE)
- Early Learning/Pre-K
- Elementary Education
- Exceptional Children (EC)
- Horizons Unlimited
- Middle School Education
- Parent Resources
- English as a Second Language (ESL)
Welcome to Horizons Unlimited!
Horizons Unlimited is a science center operated under the Rowan-Salisbury School System that provides hands-on field trips that drive student engagement and professional development to support innovative science instruction from the field to the classroom.
Horizons Unlimited has served the citizens of Salisbury and Rowan County for over 50 years with educational programming for all ages. Our family-friendly public events provide a space where exploration, creativity, and innovation are fostered.
Empowering learners to engage in science exploration and the natural world
We envision a world where every learner has access to impactful hands-on education. We are committed to giving learners the tools they need to solve real-world problems creatively and passionately. In doing so, we ignite curiosity and scientific inquiry, which will change how learners view and interact with the world around them.
Our StaffElise TellezElise is originally from Dallas, TX and found her love of nature and science at an early age while catching and studying creatures she would find in the mud. Today, Elise still enjoys exploring in the mud, but what brings her more joy is sharing those experiences with students. She has dedicated her career to science and experiential education through research in the Great Lakes, animal conservation education, and environmental education across Alabama and North Carolina. She is now thrilled to help cultivate curiosity and engage learners in science at Horizons Unlimited. When not working, Elise often likes to go on hikes with her pup Bella, listen to podcasts, and make a mess in the kitchen trying new recipes.Chrystal ParkerChrystal Parker is the Financial Secretary for Horizons Unlimited. Most days, you will find her behind a computer and keeping the building on track, but you may also find her throughout the building assisting with groups or outside working in the flowers.Rena Taylor
Rena is a Salisbury native but got her start in Environmental Science in Asheville. After she began working with students, she found a sweet spot for middle-school-aged kids. She began her teaching career in Durham but moved back to live with her husband in Salisbury. She is passionate about public schools and teaching science. You can often find her on the Salisbury Greenway walking her two terriers, Ladybird and Laika. Rena currently serves as the communications lead and maintains the social media presence for Horizons Unlimited. She also serves on the Hurley Park advisory board.
Tanner is Horizon Unlimited’s resident reptile lover. Tanner grew up in Salisbury, and frequently visited Horizons through the Rowan-Salisbury School system. As a kid, Tanner spent most of his time outside flipping over logs looking for snakes and salamanders. He is a Fall of 2021 UNCW graduate with a degree in Environmental Science with a focus on Environmental Conservation. After spending time in different zoos and aquariums as an animal keeper, he changed his focus to environmental education with the intention of inspiring the next generation of reptile lovers. Outside of work, you can find Tanner spending time with his scaled children, taking care of his plants, and propagating corals.
Kelly Crews is a 16-year-old veteran teacher who grew up in Rowan County. A Catawba and ECU graduate, she loves to spend her time organizing anything and enjoying the outdoors. A heart for younger children, Kelly enjoys inspiring and encouraging children to explore and find their sense of curiosity in all things. A Disney fan, Kelly collects Disney pins when she’s not spending time with her family and pets. Kelly is the Science & Logistics Specialist at Horizons.
As director of the Margaret C. Woodson Planetarium, Neil Pifer has spent his 24-year career as a passionate science teacher. Neil has used his experience in Rowan and Cabarrus Counties to ignite a spark in students, whether they are inside the dome, in the science lab dissecting, or on the trail.
In addition to being a dynamic educator, Neil is an avid curler with his wife, Anne. Neil is excited to oversee the changes to the planetarium that happened during the pandemic, including upgrading the laser and sound system, adding a 4K fish-eye projector, and opening up the planetarium for adaptive audiences. These changes haven’t dimmed the original Spitz A3P projector with LED lights that create a hyper-realistic night sky for students and the community alike.
Summer is from Raleigh, NC but moved to Salisbury to attend Catawba College. She recently graduated in 2022 with a B.S. Environment and Sustainability, concentrating on Sustainable Planning and Outdoor Education along with finishing two minors in Geographical Information Systems and Communications. Summer’s goal is to help the world continue toward a more sustainable future and educate future change makers on environmentally related topics. As a child, summer was constantly found outside exploring nature, whether that was lizard hunting, nature walks or going to parks. Some of her hobbies include hiking, sports, and hanging out with friends!
Mike Nicolosi is the custodian and grounds keeper for Horizons Unlimited. He has been with the school system for 7 years, during which he has also coached many soccer teams.
Margaret C. Woodson Planetarium
Since 1969, the Margaret C. Woodson Planetarium has been enthralling audiences with images of our neighborhood, the night sky and the universe. In the 73-seat, 30-foot planetarium in which recent updates have made this dome state-of-the-art. A new laser 4K fish-eye projector allows images and shows anywhere from planet Earth to the outer reaches of space. Our upgraded laser system and sound system creates a multisensory experience for our concert laser shows. With the continued support of the Margaret C. Woodson Foundation, our 1969 Spitz A3P star projector has LED lighting to continue to provide a hyper-realistic night sky for all ages.
Have you ever heard of a rainforest right outside of Charlotte? Our indoor rainforest supports a wide range of vegetation types and demonstrates different aspects of the rainforest ecosystem, such as the importance of tree canopy. This artificial humid environment includes a raging waterfall and life-like rock structures.
Have you ever seen stars under the sea? Explore our 1,300 gallon touch pool modeled after a coastal tidepool. Inhabitants include various starfish, sea urchins, tropical fish, and other marine species. In addition to our touch pool, our facility has 3 two-hundred gallon aquariums that include native fish and aquatic turtle habitats.
Slithering, hopping, and crawling around are our animal ambassadors! Our animal collection includes creatures with no legs, and some with as many as eight legs. With a combination of North Carolina native and exotic species, we promote conservation of the natural world, and help students develop a closer connection to nature. In addition to our ambassadors, we possess various biofacts, allowing us to bring nature inside the classroom.
Built in Southern Rowan County in 1847, this one-room schoolhouse educated children in the area for 50 years. One-room schooling incorporated multiple students from every grade level in the same building and only operated for 2-3 months during the year. In partnership with the Rowan Museum, the Setzer School is used as a resource for public programming. Students have a chance to compare how their school life has changed compared to Setzer, and what inventions, changes, and societal freedoms have changed since the mid-19th Century.
Put on your safety goggles and lab coat, because it’s time to start a dissection in Horizons Unlimited’s science lab! Hone your dissection skills, learn how to properly use stereoscopes, and have a blast with your lab partner learning about animal anatomy.
We offer dissection programs to 7th grade and high school students, focused on developing lab skills such as tool use, comparative anatomy, and lab safety. Dissection options include our introductory pickle (great for students who are both familiar and unfamiliar with dissection skills), grasshoppers, worms, crayfish, squids, herrings, and sheep hearts.
Seating up to 60 students, our science lab(s) can be divided into two separate laboratory spaces. Equipped with lab tables, chairs, stereoscopes, and a washroom, our lab is suited for a wide range of lab -related uses.
Horizons Unlimited welcomes school groups of all kinds for field trips. Located in Rowan County, Horizons Unlimited provides a unique and engaging opportunity for students to explore science through hands-on learning experiences, both indoors and outdoors.
On-Site Field Trips
Our on-site field trips are designed to allow students and teachers access to science resources beyond the classroom. Our Core Field Trip has a multitude of options to allow for customizations by the teacher. Our grade level specific field trips are based on the North Carolina Standard Course of Study for Science as well as the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Designed with intent, these field trips are purposefully designed to be on target for student’s developmental levels as well as cover their science standards in-depth.
Field trips consist of either 2 or 3 experiences chosen by the teacher from our Programming Guide. Once chosen, the teacher will register the class and choose from a variety of options. Once the requests have been approved, the field trip will be scheduled!
Home School Associations
Horizons encourages homeschooling programs to visit and learn with us! We realize that not all school groups follow the same curriculum, and are happy to speak with you and find ways to help enhance your curriculum through our already robust programming options.
Utilizing our Program Guide, teachers and coordinators are encouraged to choose the programming that best fits your group’s needs.
The staff at Horizons is available for a variety of Outreach programming opportunities. During an Outreach Program, a staff member will engage your students through hands-on learning experiences that help develop a deeper understanding of the content.
Un-Boxed Science Kits
Horizons Un-Boxed is a series of kits that brings Horizons Unlimited to you! Complete with lesson plans, manipulatives, experiments and everything you need to complete a successful unit, these Un-Boxed Kits can be rented and brought into your school for 2 weeks at a time.
Built for small hands and big imaginations, this Horizons Unboxed Kinder Coding Kit, will allow students to explore coding, weather and insects all in one. Take a walk with umbrellas on a sunny day, dance with the bees, get bugs out of the kitchen, help Awbie find his strawberries and Read Differently! with Freddy the Frog as you code your way into science!
First Grade Forces and Motion
May the force be with you! And You! And You too! Dive into forces and motion with Jedi Neil as he trains you on the mysterious forces of magnetism and gravity. In this kit, you will experience how forces and motions affect things in your everyday life and beyond and learn how to control the mysterious forces yourself! Make rings levitate, frogs jump and cars zoom into motion as you master the force.
Second Grade Sound
Can you hear that? What is it? Is it a high or low sound? What’s making it? Do birds make different sounds? Can you see sounds? Sounds are all around us - from the sound of pots and pans rattling to the sound of a cat purring. We are surrounded by sounds that we sometimes don’t even notice. Explore the sounds around you through our hands-on activities and experiments.
Third Grade Skeletal System
Do you know your insides from your outsides? What’s holding you up? Why aren’t your arms like jelly and your legs like tentacles? Discover these answers and more through investigations into the human skeletal system. Create your own skeleton, examine human skulls and find out how your body works.
Join us under the dome for these upcoming laser shows! Doors open 15 minutes before the show. Each ticket is sold separately and can be purchased at https://horizons.jotform.com/221926033205951 or by scanning the QR code.
September 17 4-6 pm
We are so excited to host this years Creek Week Kickoff event! Join us for hands on science, sustainable art, a planetarium show, wetland exploration and Kona Ice! This event is FREE and open to the public. Any age is welcome!
1636 Parkview Circle, Salisbury NC, 28144
Directions for Schools:
Park and enter in the back of the building accessible from Lilly Avenue. If using GPS, type in 1000 Lilly Avenue and follow the road all the way to the end. At that point, you will be in our rear parking lot.
Directions for public openings and events:
Park and enter at the front entrance of our building accessible from Mahaley Avenue. If using GPS, type in 1636 Parkview Circle, Salisbury, NC 28144. We are up the hill from Knox Middle School.