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Stars big and bright at WITC

WITC Campus Administrator and Vice President Joe Huftel takes a look at the portable, inflatable planetarium that recently landed in the college’s conference center. He stands near the doorway to the tube entrance. Paul Kinzer, owner/operator of he portable planetarium, Starlab, brings the stars and planets indoors for easier viewing.

(5/19/11): A portable planetarium recently gave Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College Early Childhood Education students a look at the night sky during the day and indoors.

Invited by WITC science instructor Wendy Dusek, Paul Kinzer brought his portable planetarium “Starlab” to the college campus. Kinzer’s Web site describes Starlab as “an opaque inflatable dome with an entrance tunnel, 18 by 21 feet across and 11 feet high, that seats about 15-20 adults or 30 children. 

“In the center of the dome, a projector with interchangeable charts projects a rotating image onto the inner surface of the dome.  It displays more than a thousand stars and the Moon, for any time of any day of the year.  It also shows the appearance of the sky from anywhere between the equator and the North Pole.” 

Students also listened to Kinzer explain constellation outlines, both modern and ancient, and viewed slides of the Earth, Moon, planets, the Milky Way, and various deep-space objects.

Dusek coordinated the demonstration with WITC instructor Mary Williams-Greene in an effort to show students different teaching methods in early childhood education.

“Kinzer has various presentations geared for different ages,” says Williams-Greene. “He makes his talk interactive, so children get a hands-on approach to learning about the night sky.  This is effective for our students to witness and experience various ways to teach very young children about science.”