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OFF To Space and … Back

PNC initiative brings mobile planetarium

to Jessamine’s Early Learning Village

The “Growing Up Together Under One Big Sky” mobile planetarium visited the Jessamine County Early Learning Village last week.

The Sesame Street-themed inflatable featured Big Bird, Elmo, and their friend from the other side of the globe Hu Hu Zhu, a muppet from the Chinese co-production. The planetarium, an inflatable dome made of a durable and lightweight fabric that takes less than 30 minutes to set up, had plenty of room to seat up to 35 students on the floor, and a little extra room for chairs for the teachers.

When inside, the dome is kept fresh by a constant flow of air keeping everyone cool and comfortable. It’s entirely dark except for the video that is projected onto the inner wall of the dome that encompasses you into the experience.

The planetarium is part of the PNC Grow Up Great, a $350 million bilingual initiative that began in 2004 to help prepare children ages three-to-five for success in school and life.

It covers some of the basic principles of math, geometry, physics and about other cultures.

“The tour guides that were a part of the experience did a great job interacting with the students,” said Andrea Nielsen, the curriculum resource administrator at the Jessamine Early Learning Village. “The content and how it is presented was very developmentally appropriate and had been clearly designed for 3-to-6-year-olds. We loved being able to partner with community members in order to provide such a unique and professional experience for our students. Children were able to learn more about the moon and stars and sun while also learning about another culture.”

One of the children was overhead commenting before he entered, “Is this a portal to go to outer space?”

“The children loved learning more about the moon and stars and experiencing it in a very fun and engaging way,” said Preschool Teacher Kristina Web. “They loved that it included Sesame Street characters since all of them are familiar with those characters. All of my students were highly engaged the whole length of the video.”

Though the experience was directed towards those of a preschool age, teachers were able to fit in a few kindergarten classes to enjoy the planetarium as well, Web said. The students are even able to learn beyond the inside of the dome with packets handed out to each student after the presentation.

Susan Giurgevich, one of the instructional assistants said, “Amazing was one of our students’ consistent quotes during the presentation and I feel certain the feeling was shared by the rest of the class.”