Students travel across the galaxy

Check Elementary students visit the Museum of the Earth Sciences at Radford University
Check Elementary students visit the Museum of the Earth Sciences at Radford University.

When Check Elementary School pulled up to Radford University on June 14, it was many students’ first visit to an institution of higher education.

The Floyd County students visited the planetarium in the Artis College of Science and Technology, which has hosted a multitude of schools, camps and boy scouts this summer – with 19 visits since May 23 and more scheduled for the summer.

As the students approached campus, voices were heard saying, “This is so cool,” and, “Radford is so big,” around the bus. The trip across the galaxy was just beginning for the students.

The planetarium program attended by the students featured eclipses, the solar system and a short video titled “Sunstruck,” which explored the future of the sun.

Melly Lucas, a junior at Radford University, led the students on their journey through the stars, during which a Check student whispered, “This is awesome.”

The “awesome” exploration was part of an effort to have the next generation see the wonder of science and technology.


Check Elementary students see the Radford University Planetarium

Check Elementary students see the Radford University Planetarium. Physics Professor Rhett Harman (front, center) introduced the students to the facility.

“It’s great to get that information into the community so the kids can have a resource,” said Jessica Bennett, a summer school teacher at Check and a teacher at Floyd County High School. “The experience of having the kids on the campus was good, too.”

Anne Esterhuizen, a Radford alumna and fifth grade teacher at Check Elementary, stressed the importance of getting out in the surrounding community.

“I think the population that we serve, it is important for them to see and get exposure to universities and the things that are really close to them,” she said. “Many students hadn’t been here before and they are only 30 minutes away. It is a really valuable experience for them to see the resources available here for them to use.”

After the show, students asked questions relating to the Earth’s composition, space and if aliens existed. “All the stuff in science fiction continues to come true,” Rhett Harman, a physics professor, said to the students, leaving a door to a galaxy far, far away open to the students.

The students and teachers toured the Museum of the Earth Sciences and went inside a physics lab after the planetarium show. A demonstration gave the students a first-hand look at what astronomers see when they study the stars and the different kinds of visible light emitted by various gases.

The facilities visited by Check Elementary and other organizations are open to the entire Radford community and to the general public. The Radford University Planetarium hosts public shows Thursdays at 7 p.m. and will add additional showings later in June.

Jun 15, 2017
Max Esterhuizen