The South Carolina State Museum’s ambitious “windows to New worlds’ project is up and running after a successful opening to the public Saturday. The 75,000 square foot expansion project includes a planetarium, a collection of Historic Astronomy, and an observatory that features a digitized refracting telescope and a fully equipped classroom. The study of various objects in space will reach far beyond the walls of the museum as five teachers participated in a program in late July to learn how to operate the telescope remotely from their respective classrooms across the state. Amy Baldwin of Oakbrook Middle School in Summerville participated in the program. She said she is excited about the learning possibilities for her students.
“It will be very simple to translate back to the student. You’re not going to have to spend a day learning software. It’s kind of a click, point and shoot, and the telescope will actually track the stars or the Sun or whatever you’ve asked it to look at. We did spend a day calibrating the telescope so that it would do that accurately.”
Baldwin is the pre-Engineering and robotics teacher at Oakbrook Middle School. She teaches 6th through 8th grade students.
Baldwin said she and the other teachers were amazed at the sharp details they could see of the Sun and the various planets, and she can’t wait to see how her students will react when they observe the universe up close via the telescope.
“See if we can see any of the sunspots or a planet at night. When i got to see Saturn, as well as Titan and other moons, I was just in awe. It was the most amazing experience I’ve ever had and for the students to have those same experiences it’s going to be outstanding.
Coming from Dorchester County School District 2, Baldwin said there is no doubt that area students’ interest in science in general, and aeronautics and space in particular, has grown since Boeing arrived in the area.
“It’s encouraging us to do more hands-on to give students the application. Actually by 7th and 8th graders traveled to Boeing to see the plant’s facilities. We also encourage the Boeing volunteers to come into our classroom also. We have a lot of students in my class whose parents are employed by Boeing which is fabulous.”
The school districts participating in the program are Dorchester County 2, Richland County 1, Spartanburg County 7, and York County 3.