E.A.S.I. Receives $60,415 in grants from United Way of Graham & Greenlee County and R.A.I.N. for traveling planetarium

Contributed Photo: EASI receives a check for $55,415 from the United Way of Graham & Greenlee County for its STEM program and to purchase a traveling planetarium. Pictured are, from left, Paulette LeBlanc, Anita Shurtz, Paul Anger, Amelia Sainz, Dr. Phil McBride, and Jackie Madsen.

Contributed Article

THATCHER – The Eastern Arizona Science Initiative received a $55,415 grant from the United Way of Graham & Greenlee County and a $5,000 grant from the Graham & Greenlee County Rural Activation and Innovation Network (RAIN) through the National Science Foundation, to purchase a “StarLab” inflatable, portable planetarium and funding for STEM activities throughout the year.

The “StarLab” portable planetarium consists of a 22’ inflatable dome that can be set up in 15 minutes and is capable of holding more than 50 individuals. The system includes a computer and projections ystem loaded with a variety of customizable earth sciences lessons that can be shared “planetarium style”, projected overhead on the dome with brilliantcolors and effects.

Along with the expected diverse astronomy lessons and presentations, the system also includes digital presentations on global weather patterns, biological cells, plate tectonics, Native American mythology, and ocean currents. As the planetarium will require extensive training, select members and staff of EASI, the Desert SkyGazers Astronomy Club and the EAC Discovery Park Campus will serve as operators and lesson instructors. 

The Eastern Arizona Science Initiative plans on utilizing this amazing teaching tool as often as possible for the community. Plans are being made to incorporate it into the annual EASI Summer Science Camps and to make its debut to the public at the 2019 Gila Valley Health & STEAM Festival at the EAC Main Campus and the Discovery Park Campus on Saturday, Feb 23, 2019. It’s anticipated to travel throughout Graham and Greenlee counties for special events and presentations throughout the year.

Paul Anger, Chair of the Eastern Arizona Science Initiative and Director of the EAC Discovery Park Campus said, “We are so grateful for the United Way of Graham and Greenlee County and R.A.I.N.for their generous grants.  The portable planetarium will provide an amazing opportunity to promote STEM education to all ages throughout Eastern Arizona. The planetarium will offer science lessons and activities that were previously only available in Tucson or Phoenix, but now we can do it here – no travel and no charge!”

For more information on the Eastern Arizona Science Initiative or the EAC Discovery Park Campus and their STEM opportunities call (928) 428-6260 or e-mail Anger at paul.anger@eac.edu.

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