Midway grant gives students a new view of the planet

POSTED: Friday, October 21, 2011 - 2:19pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - 6:38pm

How do you teach astronomy during the day? With a portable, digital planetarium, and you won't find one of these anywhere else in Central Texas.

Ass students walk into the planetarium, they never know what they might see. This type of learning takes the students out of the textbook and in to virtual reality.

This year the Midway Education Foundation awarded astronomy teacher Elizabeth Walker their largest grant yet of $30,000. And while gazing at the stars at 9 am is a perk, the planetarium can be used for much more.

"It also can be used for lots of other disciplines like biology, history... even some life science type things. So it's really got a lot of applications and really a lot of use," Walker said.

Walking into the planetarium, the initial reaction is typically amazement.

"I thought it was really cool," Senior Natasha Thayer said. 

"A different feeling you'd think you'd have at school, so it was a really neat experience," Senior Sam Owens said.

"Very excited to be able to share this with my students, to able to share this with the students around the district and the other teachers, it's one of those things I think you have to see to believe," Walker said.

And her goals for the project?

"What I want most for my students is to come away with some real world application and hope that it enriches their lives."

But does it really provide any real world applications?

"The other day I was out looking at the stars... and I saw Jupiter... and I knew it was Jupiter because I was in the planetarium and we learned how Jupiter would look in the sky so I was actually able to use that in the real world, so I was excited," Thayer said.

And while the planetariums home base is Midway High School, nearly every week it's checked out by another Midway teacher in the elementary and middle schools.

"I can't wait for the underclassman to use it and i can't wait for the elementary kids to use it because they're going to love it, everyone's just going to love this thing,"Thayer said.  


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