Reach for the Stars, They’re Closer Than You Think

It’s not everyday one can see the stars up close. However, for a week, the Science Department allowed students to do just that! The science department ordered an astronomy tent observatory for the students to enjoy. We asked Mr. Skibitski a few questions about the dome.

Q: How does the tent work?

A: The tent (dome) is inflated like a balloon, or bouncy castle. Except you are on the inside and there is no floor!

Q: What is the purpose of the tent?   

A: The dome’s purpose is to inspire and intrigue young academic minds with the mysteries of the universe!

Q: What do you think the future of technology such as this is?

A: The dome, if I’m being honest is not cutting edge technology. It’s probably outdated itself by about 10-15 years. BUT, it is a reliable and immersive experience for students. There are newer technologies which work on the same principle of immersing a student in the subject they are learning about (think Virtual Reality like the Occulus Rift, or Augmented Reality apps like Pokemon Go!). But these technologies are extremely expensive to create/ work with, and are particularly self-contained. They require no student interaction of any kind. This dome is inclusive, and open to many students from different interests and physical conditions.

Q: What are your students finding most fascinating about the dome?

A: I think the things that students found most interesting, were the lack of stars we can see here in Lodi. It is disappointing to realize we miss out on monthly and yearly astronomical events due to the light pollution from our surrounding area. The other “ooohh/aahhh” moment I noticed most often was when looking at the sheer size of the Sun in comparison to our little planet. Finally, the students that seemed the most excited were the ones who were able to find some of the constellations on their own. They were able to really interact with other students, and the experience enveloped them even.

The Science Department outdid themselves this time. Not only did students enjoy the experience, but so did teachers! This new method to teach students about the stars is gaining popularity in Lodi High School so, we welcome the news of Mr. Skibitski planning to bring it back next year to all subject areas! Look below to catch a small glimpse of the dome.