LMS students build inflatable planetarium

LMS students build inflatable planetarium
Posted on 03/02/2018

Leal Middle School students recently worked together to complete an exciting, new project – an inflatable planetarium.

Science Teacher Viviana Bonilla decided to create the “out-of-this-world” learning environment with the help of her Project Based Learning students. Together, they built the 100-foot planetarium in the school’s library using plastic garden sheeting, Gorilla tape, a trash bag and a box fan.

“I gave them all the materials, watched the video with the instructions, and they got straight to work and did it themselves,” Bonilla said. “Once they got inside, they enjoyed it.”

All of her classes had the opportunity to step inside of the inflatable planetarium, where they learned about and modeled earth rotations, revolutions and lunar cycles.

“It can get a little mundane in the classroom doing models over and over again, so this is exactly what we would do in the classroom, but now we’re doing them in ‘outer space,’” Bonilla added. “The kids were very excited.”

During the lunar cycle lesson, students held their own small model, a Styrofoam ball and a skewer stick, and had to model and discuss every moon phase.

“It’s one of their TEKS, so they need to know how to model and explain,” Bonilla said. “And, the planetarium is offering them a different experience that keeps them engaged.”

After receiving positive feedback from her students, Bonilla hopes to use the planetarium again in the future.

“They loved it,” she said. “I hear the discussions the next day, and they’re talking about it, which means that they learned by strengthening those ties and making those connections. Hopefully, we can use it again next year.” 
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