The Guy Fenter Education Service cooperative and U/A Fort Smith have recently teamed up to make the NASA Star Lab available to schools throughout the region.
Star Lab is an interactive traveling planetarium that allows students to participate in the study of astronomy while remaining within their own schools. Standing sixteen foot high and twenty two foot in diameter, the blow-up lab can seat up to forty students at a time. The projector system within the lab can offer a variety of programs ranging from a study of the night sky to the travels of Lewis and Clark. Mr. Steve Brodie of U/A Fort Smith and Dr. Curtis Varnell of GFESC present the program.
In recent weeks, the star lab and its companion elementary curriculum, Space Adventure, has visited more than one thousand area students and created interest in physics and astronomy. Space Adventure allows young students, generally k-2, to experience the physics of space while enjoying space food and trying on actual space suits. The program, developed and written by Dr. Curtis Varnell of GFESC, has been recognized by NASA as one of the outstanding space curriculums in education. Mrs. Amber Cobb, gifted and talented educator for the coop, generally presents the program assisted by Dr. Varnell.
Area schools participating in the program include Waldron, Paris, Paris St. Josephs, Booneville, Magazine, County Line, Ozark, Lamar, Mansfield, Hartford, and Scranton.
The program and lab are presented free as part of a grant from the National Aeronautics and Space administration and the U/A Little Rock Space Consortium.