The Space Planetarium Dome

The students file into the planetarium dome wondering what awaits. The room is dark although the ceiling is lit up from the projector which has not yet begun “the show.” We all circle around Mrs. Parnell-Stucks and are asked to sit down. She gives us some instructions and then introduces what we are going to learn. Suddenly, the room goes completely dark, and the constellations appear. The collective gasp is audible. One of the third graders yells, “I see the Milky Way!”

As we stare into the starry sky, our teacher explains what stars are and how old they are. Someone yells, “A shooting star!” Everyone is mesmerized.

PAFE is so happy to help Sagle Elementary School teacher Ashley Delucchi bring this program alive. Students from Kindergarten through sixth grade at both Sagle and Southside travel into a world of astronomy, geology, and geography. They learn about star patterns, constellations, and the universe.

At each grade level, the teachers meet Idaho standards for earth and science in a fun and memorable way. For example, in Kindergarten, students will learn how the sun warms the earth. Third-grade students will get an in-depth lesson about the planets. Fifth and sixth-grade students will learn about the earth’s geography, as well as the universe and its stars.

We spoke to Courtney Parnell-Stucks, and she told us she experienced the planetarium when she was a student at Sagle Elementary. It was one of her key memories of school. We love that it stokes curiosity and teaches students about something bigger than themselves, bigger than their imagination can take them to.

The dome rotates between Sagle and Southside every other month to allow each school to have a full month with the materials. This allows time for all students to rotate through the program several times, meaning that almost 400 students are impacted by this grant.

On a recent visit, we were able to experience the planetarium with Mrs. Parnell-Stuck’s third-grade class. You can see it here:

Our teacher grants support Lake Pend Oreille School District educators to bring creative and innovative programs to the classroom, and because they are teacher-led ideas, they have a far greater impact on the students. These grants fill gaps in funding with innovative programs to amplify our impact. If you’d like to support this, you can donate here.