Tech Planetarium to undergo transformation

May 26, 2017


A before photo of the planetarium shows the area that will soon be remodeled into classroom space. – Photo by Kacie Kaufman

Kacie Kaufman
News Editor| kjk019@latech.edu


The Louisiana Tech Planetarium was built in 1967 and since its inception, it has provided a range of educational opportunities for the Ruston community. The space will soon be remodeled and repurposed, however, and will serve as an area of expansion of classroom space for the A.E. Phillips Laboratory School.


Joanne Hood, director of the A.E. Phillips Laboratory School, said the school is under a consent decree from the Department of Justice, which requires the school to have a population that more accurately reflects that of Lincoln Parish. In an effort to comply with these standards, Hood said the school planned to eventually build four new classrooms — two of which will be housed in what is currently the planetarium.


“So, as we were trying to decide the best place to put those classes, and the best way to build or renovate, the decision was made with the dean, that’s Don Schillinger, and Lindsey Keith-Vincent, that two classrooms could be placed in the planetarium area,” she said. “So, after school gets out, toward the end of May, construction will start and the planetarium will be transformed into two classrooms for next year.”


Hood said the planned expansion and transformation would be a highly beneficial change for the school.


“It’s always exciting when you get to add on or renovate or have new construction at a school,” she said. “I know it’ll probably be somewhat stressful for the teachers who are moving in there while we start the construction, because they want to get in there and get the rooms prepared for next fall, but Louisiana Tech has always done a great job of getting our projects done and ready before school has started. So, we’re just really looking forward to having some updated classroom spaces for our boys and girls to learn in.”


Lindsey Keith-Vincent, director of the Science and Technology Education Center, said the official announcement for the closure of the planetarium was made at the state of the college address in March.


“That space makes the most sense as far as proximity to the lab school and it provides another space there for the growing population of students,” she said.


Keith-Vincent said those involved with the planetarium were happy the space would help A.E. Phillips continue developing.


“We’re definitely excited about the opportunity to support the growing lab school,” Keith-Vincent said.


Although there are no formal plans in place concerning a relocation, she said the eventual hope was for the planetarium to find a new space in the community in order to continue the scientific programming it currently provides.


“We are keeping the equipment, and our ultimate goal is to relocate it in a space where we can continue to serve the community and inspire the youth to engage in STEM,” she said.


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