Students at Holbrook Elementary School got the chance to explore space and see the Earth from a Martian’s point of view last week without the risks that space and shuttle travel entail. The students explored the solar system in Starlab, an inflatable planetarium, which took them out of their ordinary gym and into the atmosphere.

“It was awesome,” said Elijah Mosquera, 10, a fifth grader who got to explore the Earth’s spheres with his class. “I really liked it when the Earth came zooming towards us. It was cool.”

His teacher, Diedre Capers, said that the planetarium offered a wonderful opportunity for her students, allowing them to actually see and experience what they learn in the classroom.

“They’re able to take a visit into space instead of just looking at a map. They are actually able to see the many facets of the planet and see the cryosphere and hydrosphere,” said Capers. “It’s a great way to integrate science and technology for the students.”

The students weren’t the only ones who got the chance to step into outer space; their parents got to share the experience during Curriculum Night, Oct. 3.

“Adults were lining the gym to get the chance to go into the Starlab,” said Christine Giusto-Weibl, an educational technologist, who ran the Starlab’s software program, allowing the students and parents see the sunrise on Mars. “They all seemed to really love the chance to not only go into the planetarium, but also see first-hand what their children were learning.”

While the students had slightly different experiences inside the Starlab based on their grade-level, their reactions were all the same when they stepped in and got to see outer space. Whether in pre-kindergarten or fifth grade, students all gasped when they stepped into the darkness and saw the stars and shrieked as the moon zipped by overhead.