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Portable Planetarium Touches Down
Dent Elementary School had a huge silver dome sitting on the stage in the cafeteria on Friday, Jan. 25.

Fifth grade teacher Chris Casazza was hosting a presentation within the dome for the school's third and fifth graders. The big silver dome is called a Star Lab and is an inflatable, portable, planetarium designed to bring the night sky a little closer to earth.

In order to use the mobile planetarium the teacher needs to go through training. Casazza participated in the training so he is able to host the presentations and offer insights to visiting students about what they are seeing and learning.

To participate in the Star Lab experience, you must crawl your way into the dome and once inside, the ceiling turns into a sparkling night sky. The teacher is able to show videos and has a remote to go through several different experiences within the dome, portraying the night sky at different times of year and representing a variety of constellations. The school will get to use the portable planetarium for two weeks a year. The presentation is about 45 minutes long and is shown primarily to the third and fifth graders, where it coincides with their schoolwork. The demonstration helps cover some of the science standards that are required by California at those grade levels. Other classes can visit the planetarium as time permits.

"The students really like it, they really get engaged in the presentation," said Casazza.