Makeshift planetarium becomes star attraction at Chembur school

Swami Vivekanand School has installed a temporary, inflatable planetarium in its premises so students can enjoy the experience and learn more about the universe we live in

An entire universe of knowledge has been opened up to students at a Chembur school, which has installed a temporary, inflatable planetarium in its premises to teach children the nuances of astronomy.

Students of the school can enjoy the experience until August 28. Prinicipals from other schools have also expressed interest in setting up similar planetariums on their campuses
Students of the school can enjoy the experience until August 28. Prinicipals from other schools have also expressed interest in setting up similar planetariums on their campuses

Instead of relying solely on books, kids at Swami Vivekanand School are now learning about the solar system and the space beyond with the help of this planetarium, which has been set up in the auditorium. The set-up comprises an inflatable domed tent, inside which special animated videos of space, the night sky, etc, are projected.

Throughout the day, there are several presentations, tailor-made to each standard. These sessions will carry on every day until August 28. “The sad thing is that today’s generation doesn’t know the joy of visiting a planetarium. Parents are always dragging their kids to malls and assume that schools will cover the Nehru Planetarium visit.

We realised that this in-house planetarium will be a good way to get the experience to our kids on our own campus,” said Bina Gole, principal of the school. “The purpose is to go beyond textbooks and classrooms and to find something of interest for students of all ages. We readily agreed to set this up on our campus so that it benefits everybody,” she added.

The school decided to set up the initiative when it was approached by Equinox, the company that hit upon the idea of makeshift planetariums to promote astronomy and science education in schools. Principal Gole said that the idea had impressed her so much, she had lost no time in getting approval for the project from both the school authorities and the students’ parents.

“Parents were more than happy to contribute money for this, as they all realised that this would be an interesting experience,” she added. This school, at present, is the first in the city to have such a planetarium within its campus. While the planetarium is open for the school’s students throughout the day, principals from neighbouring schools have also got in touch, expressing interest in experiencing it.

“Principals found the planetarium very interesting and might soon try to get in touch with the organisers (Equinox) for the same to be set up at their schools as well,” said Gole. “The best part about it is that students from every class have a separate presentation, and once the presentation is over, they can also ask questions and clear doubts. This has been an innovative and refreshing experience, not only for students but for the staff as well,” she added.

The experience
>> The makeshift planetarium is essentially a dome-shaped tent that can be inflated and set up
>> The dome’s ceiling serves as the screen on which a projector displays videos of the night sky or the solar system or other aspects of the universe
>> There are a variety of videos that are displayed depending on what Std the students are from
>> Each of the videos is accompanied by a detailed explanation of the topic being discussed

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