Friday, 01 February 2019 14:10

Portable planetarium highlights February happenings at Rockingham's Leath Memorial Library

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Debbie Knight and Shannon Hearne test out the StarLab portable planetarium at Leath Memorial Library on Friday. Debbie Knight and Shannon Hearne test out the StarLab portable planetarium at Leath Memorial Library on Friday. Matt Harrelson - Richmond Observer

ROCKINGHAM — Instead of heading out of town to visit a planetarium, Leath Memorial is bringing the solar system to downtown Rockingham in the form of StarLab — a portable, inflatable planetarium dome.

Debbie Knight, the library's outreach coordinator stopped by Good Morning Sandhills Friday to talk about the personable planetarium, which highlights February's events at Leath Memorial, and will make it first stop from 1 to 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

"It is 11 feet high and 23 feet in circumference, which is huge. It takes half of our Calvin Little Room," said Knight. "The dome itself weighs 65 pounds. We can actually fit 30 to 45 kids inside."

StarLab comes equipped with the dome system, curriculum, projector and a fan, and within 15 minutes can be fully functionable. According to StarLab's website, the planetarium elevates lessons in astronomy, history, earth sciences and mythology to a new level.

"Kids can see anything from visiting a coral reef to watching the feeding of a giraffe for the little ones," Knight said of the projector's capabilities. "Then it has us going from Earth to Mars."

Knight admitted that she and the library staff set it up Monday, to see how to operate it, and to have a little fun themselves.

"It is a wonderful thing to have in this county," she added. "We're actually gonna have it for the next couple of months to tour the five counties in the Sandhills Regional Library System. But we are actually the first guinea pigs here in Richmond County."

After Leath Memorial, StarLab will then take the tour of the county, heading to the Hamlet Public Library on Thursday, Feb. 14 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., then visiting several schools in the area for students to view during school hours. Beginning next Wednesday, the portable dome will make stops at Washington Street Elementary and Rockingham Middle before heading to LJ Bell, Hamlet Middle, Mineral Springs and Ellerbe Middle later in the week.

"There's plenty of opportunities for most of the kids to see it in this area," said Knight. "All of the schools are excited. It's something they don't have to pay for, and the kids get to learn something educational. Just like I always say, 'We're more than just books.'"

Keeping with that theme throughout February, Leath Memorial will offer free belly dancing classes from 2 to 3 p.m. on Saturdays this month, as well as knitting classes every Thursday from 4 to 5 p.m.

Of course with Valentine's Day quickly approaching, the Rockingham library is getting in on the holiday of love with a family Valentine craft night from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 11, where families can make cards and crafts together. Beginning at 10 a.m. on the holiday, popcorn will be provided as the library plays "A Charlie Brown Valentine," "Love Story" at 11 and "An Affair To Remember" at 1 p.m. in the Calvin Little Room.

February is also Black History Month, and to celebrate, library patrons can participate in a black history trivia drawing for a $25 Walmart gift card. Those playing will select a black history trivia question, fill out the back of the question with their name, address and phone number and turn it back into the library staff.

That drawing will be held March 1.

Also for Black History Month, the library will have various African-American books and poster boards of African-Americans who contributed to history on display. The Hamlet Public Library will also be giving out bookmarks, bracelets and pencils with various African-American names and accomplishments.