Space is supposedly 327,360 feet from the Earth's surface, but in Okotoks space was a lot closer yesterday, January 10.

James Durbano, astronomy specialist and owner and operator of the portable planetarium, brought the stars to Westmount School with his astrodome for 6th and 9th graders to enjoy.

Christine Crane, Westmount teacher, says the whole presentation is a fun way to educate and ties into the grade 9 exploration program as well as the grade 6 sky science program.

"It's an inflatable observatory that projects the stars onto the dome so the kids can watch the sky at night, so they don't have to go into the dark or the cold. And James, he's a former teacher as well and he brings in meteorites for the kids to hold onto and he's a very knowledgeable astronomer and he incorporates current events, things that are happening in the sky right now...so it's great."

Crane says the hands on presentation really goes a long way for the students.

"It does make it more meaningful, especially when it's a P.A.T. year. So it's more than just sitting and staring at a textbook. For example when they look at something it's just two dimensional in the textbook versus the 3-D full experience of seeing what it would actually look like in space, because space isn't in a textbook."

The school and Crane think the astrodome and Durbano's program are a great contribution to the science unit.

"Overall the astrodome is when you bring your field trip to the school, rather than having to get on a bus and go somewhere it's bringing the field trip to us. And it's more than just a guest speaker and it's more than watching a video, it's more authentic."

Crane adds that programs being brought to the school like this wouldn't be possible without the support and fundraising of parent council.

If interested in the portable planetarium and astronmer4hire's services click here.

Questions, comments, or story ideas? Email us at [email protected]

 

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