The stars and planets visited students Monday at Sunflower School.
The lights went down and the stars came out Monday morning in the gymnasium at Sunflower School. Throughout the day, six classes of fifth- and sixth-graders watched the stars and even did some time traveling.
"Whoa!" several fifth-graders said.
Whoa, indeed. It was quite a trip.
The students' journey commenced when they crawled through a tunnel into a planetarium set up in the gym. Once inside, they were treated to an up-close and personal view of the constellations and their brightest stars.
Janice Stouse, a program specialist with the Kansas City Museum, led the students on their trek. She explained it was necessary to head into the planetarium to view the stars so the sun, air pollution and light pollution didn't interfere with their ability to see the stars and planets.
"Our only alternative is wait until tonight or re-create nighttime in here," said Stouse, whose visit was financed partially through the school and partially through McDonald's restaurants.
Stouse explained that different peoples saw different figures in the night sky. The fifth-graders in Kassie Shook's class had just completed a unit on American Indians, so they were quite interested in what Indian legends were.
Stouse told them plenty of stories.
American Indians, she told the students, believe that all people started out as stars, travel the Pathway of the Souls (the Milky Way) to earth and, once dead, follow the Pathway of the Souls back to the sky. Another legend, she told the students, says that the reason trees turn red during autumn is because blood drips to earth from a bear that had been shot with arrows.
"I thought it was pretty cool," Sam Yimer, 10, said after the presentation. ``... It's really fun being inside there."
Classmate Lauren Drain, 9, said she planned to search for some specific constellations and stars when she looks at the night sky next. She especially enjoyed the story about the bear's blood causing trees to change color in the fall.
Sarah Szabo, 10, said she already enjoys star-gazing and hopes to try to find some that she saw Monday inside the planetarium.
"I like the lizard thing," she said.