Wednesday, April 23, 2014
PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Sly Park students reach for the stars

DSC_2107e

SLY PARK Environmental Education Center instructor David Welsh talks to a group of students as they sit near the new planetarium located in the gymnasium of the Sly Park Environmental Education Center in Pollock Pines Tuesday April 2. The Planetarium was provided to the education center by a grant from the GenCorp Foundation. Democrat photo by Pat Dollins

By
From page A1 | April 08, 2013 | Leave Comment

There’s an igloo at the Sly Park Education and Environmental Center and it’s helping students look at the stars.

Gasps of awe from normally nonchalant sixth graders were heard as thousands of stars bloomed inside the darkness of the inflatable black igloo-shaped dome. The new planetarium in the gym at SPEEC holds up to 50 students and a crystal clear LED projector displays stars, constellations and space formations.

SPEEC instructor David Welsh led some 25 sixth graders through the seasons, the constellations and the zodiac with the new system. As he rotated the stars to show the seasonal changes, exclamations and cries of recognition burst forth. SPEEC students experience the stars through a night hike and then the planetarium and finally they spend a couple of nights using the SPEEC’s telescopes.

The StarLab Planetarium was made possible by a donation from the GenCorp Foundation. GenCorp is a technology-based manufacturer of aerospace and defense products and systems, under its parent company, Aerojet. The foundation’s primary giving focus is science, technology, engineering and math education (STEM) to encourage students to consider technology careers. Since 2000, the GenCorp Foundation has contributed more than $10 million to its communities.

On April 2, representatives from GenCorps, the Sacramento County Office of Education and the faculty and students of SPEEC dedicated the new planetarium and the first group of sixth graders crawled inside for the viewing.

The igloo replaces an older system, said SPEEC Director Matt Smith.

“We have a dome in a classroom that is dedicated to it, but it’s been about 15 years since we’ve upgraded,” he said. “We’ve had to patch the dome numerous times and repair the equipment, and the old projector is too dim.”

SPEEC applied for a $20,000 grant from GenCorp to upgrade its old system. The new dome holds 50 instead of 25 students, has a bright, clear LED projector and new software, including a special program of the moon.

“For now, we’ve put the dome in the gym so people can have easier access to it,” said Smith. “It’s a little bigger than we expected, so we have to modify the planetarium room to fit it in.”

The remodel will be completed this summer and students will have full use of the planetarium for the new school year. The grant also allowed SPEEC to retrofit the old dome projector with LED, giving SPEEC a backup.

“It was so cool,” said Sigourney Stockton, 11. “I knew some of the things he showed us, but a lot of things were new, too.”

Contact Wendy Schultz at 530 344-5069 or wschultz@mtdemocrat.net. Follow @wschultzMtDemo on Twitter.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

.

News

Herard over the back fence: Try fishing at Wakamatsu

By Bob Billingsley | From Page: B1

 
Downtown group coordinates painting, awnings

By Wendy Schultz | From Page: A1

 
More mountain lion sightings reported

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A1, 8 Comments

Supervisor Nutting trial begins

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1, 88 Comments | Gallery

 
Sanford murder case to jury

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Gearing tax questions to correct office saves time

By Treasurer-Tax Collector | From Page: A3

.

Opinion

My turn: More than a buzzword

By Special to the Democrat | From Page: A4, 41 Comments

 
Building restored

By Mountain Democrat | From Page: A4

 
Outstanding dog

By Mountain Democrat | From Page: A4

.

Letters

National Day of Prayer

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 4 Comments

 
‘Parents, be afraid’ letter

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 32 Comments

Ukranian situation

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 5 Comments

 
Misquote

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 11 Comments

Altshuler framing

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 9 Comments

 
.

Sports

Pitching the ‘Root’ cause of Trojans’ victory

By Mike Bush | From Page: A6 | Gallery

 
Pedal power at the forefront next month

By Jerry Heinzer | From Page: A6 | Gallery

Outside with Charlie: Transitioning

By Charlie Ferris | From Page: A6

 
Sports Scene: April 22, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A7

Roundup: April 22, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A7

 
.

Prospecting

4-H’ers star at showcase

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
At a glance: Look for fireballs

By Mimi Escabar | From Page: B2, 1 Comment

Authors to share their stories

By Pat Lakey | From Page: B2, 2 Comments

 
Church to host human trafficking conference

By Pollock Pines | From Page: B3

Grow For It! Flower of Easter

By Barbara Schuchart | From Page: B5

 
.

Essentials

Crime Log: April 1-3

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A2

 
Weather stats 4-22-14

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2

Building permits 4/7-11/2014

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2

 
.

Obituaries

Bobby Lloyd Bridges

By Contributor | From Page: A2

 
Harry Frank Harper

By Contributor | From Page: A2, 6 Comments

Marion “Wayne” Griswold

By Contributor | From Page: A2

 
.

Real Estate

.

Comics

Rubes

By Contributor | From Page: A8

 
New York Times Crossword

By Contributor | From Page: A8

Flying McCoys

By Contributor | From Page: A8

 
Speed Bump

By Contributor | From Page: A8

Tundra

By Contributor | From Page: A8

 
Horoscope, Thursday, April 24, 2014

By Contributor | From Page: A8

Horoscope, Wednesday, April 23, 2014

By Contributor | From Page: A8

 
Working It Out

By Contributor | From Page: A8

TV Listings

By Contributor | From Page: A8

 
Shoe

By Contributor | From Page: A8

Sudoku

By Contributor | From Page: A8