Stargazing students at the Sly Park outdoor education program have a new tool to help them learn about our galaxy. On Tuesday, April 2, the Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) hosted a special ceremony at the Sly Park Conservation & Environmental Education Center to dedicate a new StarLab Planetarium, the purchase of which was made possible through a generous donation from the GenCorp Foundation.
The inflatable, igloo-shaped dome can accommodate up to 50 students. Students crawl through a tunnel leading to the inside of the dome where a projector displays constellation maps on the ceiling. Students attending Sly Park's outdoor education program will be able to study the projected maps and then use the center's observatory telescopes for more hands-on star gazing.
"These are the kinds of things that we love to fund because we want kids to get excited about science and engineering. It's going to touch so many young people over the years," said Juanita Garcia, Executive Director of the GenCorp Foundation.
Aerojet is an aerospace and defense leader and the parent company of GenCorp, a leading technology-based manufacturer of aerospace and defense products. The GenCorp Foundation is the philanthropic arm of GenCorp. The Foundation's primary focus is Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education, encouraging students to consider careers in technology and help build GenCorp's future workforce.
"We want to encourage young people to study science and math because they are the next generation of engineers, chemists, environmental technology specialists, and rocket scientists," said Chris Conley, Aerojet Vice President, Environmental, Health and Safety and GenCorp Foundation President. "By funding projects, like this planetarium at Sly Park, we hope to ignite students' interest in science."
Since 2000, the GenCorp Foundation has contributed more than $10 million to its communities.
"We are extremely grateful to the GenCorp Foundation and its ongoing mission of community support. The foundation deeply values STEM education and understands its far-reaching impact. We all know investing in science instruction ensures a bright future for our students, locally and nationally," said David W. Gordon, Sacramento County Superintendent of Schools.
The Sly Park Conservation & Environmental Education Center is approximately fifty miles east of Sacramento, located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The environmental education center provides programs for 5th and 6th grade students. Students actively engage in field studies, learning about the forest ecosystem and the importance of conservation to our future. Credentialed teachers provide an instructional program to over 8,000 elementary students each year. Sly Park partners include the U.S. Forest Service and the Eldorado National Forest.