Earlier this year, the portable, inflatable Pittcon Planetarium made a visit to WT. The planetarium stayed for the whole day and gave shows to students in all divisions. I had first heard about the planetarium last spring while attending a symposium given by the Spectroscopy Society of Pittsburgh, and was excited about how this would align with my eighth grade unit on Astronomy.
It was fun to see the planetarium inflate in just a few minutes. (It deflated even more quickly!) The planetarium is about 14 feet high by about 30 feet in diameter and it fits up to about 40 students. The two presenters were retired engineers who volunteer their time as part of the Spectroscopy Society to present to students. The volunteers presented the "Starhopping" show. They started by discussing early astronomy as observed by the builders at Stonehenge. There was then discussion and an amazing video of our sun's position in the Milky Way. (Students were able to see the Milky Way rotate.) Then the presenters moved on to different types of stars and constellations. The stars and constellations rotated throughout the shows. The students had some great questions and had good interactions with the presenters. Working in collaboration with Celine Haselrig and Steve Miller, we were able to have the entire eighth grade, ninth grade physics classes, Upper School Astronomy class, and the fourth grade see shows.