Planetarium expands experiences, increases opportunities for other classes


ETHS goes beyond the classroom to provide innovative techniques to enhance classroom learning, and with the recent renovation of the school’s planetarium completed you could receive a new kind of learning experience in some of your classes.
“No longer are students just having to sit and look at a textbook picture, they can actually experience it and we don’t have to leave ETHS,” says GionMatthias Schelbert, astronomy and astrophysics teacher.
Since the renovation of the planetarium, some of the new additions include a 3D theatre, a projection system, and a new software that allows students to be immersed in a real life environment. Although these renovations may seem to affect only students studying Astronomy, it is in fact available to all students.
“The vision that I had was not just astronomy, and not just science, but anybody who had an idea where a dome projection would assist teaching and engaging students,” explains Schelbert.
Schelbert is not just a science teacher he also oversees the planetarium, and has created many ideas that will enhance and engage students. For instance, instead of reading a history textbook, students will actually go to the places inside of the book and explore surroundings in the planetarium. With the new software students can travel to places like Notre Dame or even see how Evanston looked like in the past. Classes such as Humanities, Computer Gaming, and the visual arts will be among some of the classes to start to use the planetarium.
Currently, Schelbert is working with school resource departments to enable students who are not in these classes to have the opportunity to utilize these new planetarium technologies. He says that he is creating a positive behavior piece which after students complete homework or do well in a class they would be rewarded.
“One of the rewards would be that they would have a movie time down at the planetarium or experience what a spacecraft does or something along those lines,” says Schelbert.
According to the Evanston Roundtable, Leonard Schaeffer, an ETHS alumnus donated $500,000 to the planetarium and the ETHS Educational Foundation contributed $700,000 to make the renovation possible. It was first built in 1968, and was one of the first planetariums to be on a high school campus. In addition, district 65 students will now have the opportunity to utilize the space instead of traveling to the Adler Planetarium.
“This is a learning vehicle not just for ETHS science students, but all students, and also district 65 and the general public,” Schelbert says.