Students and staff at will celebrate the grand opening of the school’s Aquascience Greenhouse this weekend.
Students will guide guests through a presentation in the school’s planetarium and a tour of the new 30-by-72-foot greenhouse, featuring a demonstration of student projects. The event will run from 4:30-6:30 p.m., Saturday, May 5.
Together, the greenhouse and the school’s existing planetarium form an educational demonstration site designed to teach students and adults of all ages about the undersea and outer-space environments.
Some 9,000 elementary students are expected to visit the school annually. Their experience will begin with an original, locally-produced planetarium show titled “Stars to Starfish.”
As part of Riverview’s “Kids Teaching Kids” program, children visiting the site also will enjoy student-led guided tours of the greenhouse, home to saltwater coral and sea creatures such as Clownfish, as well as Talapia, Koi and other freshwater fish.
Katrin Rudge, director of the RHS Aquascience Program, cites the program’s motto, “Preserve Today for Tomorrow’s Future.” She said the program will foster environmental stewardship while promoting higher achievement in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math, also known as the STEM classes.
“It is exciting to realize that this type of exposure might plant the seed for a child growing up to become a marine biologist or an astronaut,” said Rudge.
Jason Mocherman, director of the RHS Planetarium, sees the partnership with the Aquascience Program as “a stepping stone to creating Riverview-produced planetarium shows that explore multiple subject areas, while building community interest that will help sustain these facilities.”
The “Stars to Starfish” Planetarium-Aquascience collaboration is being funded through grants from the State Farm Youth Advisory Board and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The project also receives support and consultation from several community businesses and organizations, including CMSA Architects, Mills Gilbane Contractors, Full Dome FX, Mote Marine Aquaculture Research Lab, New College’s Pritzker Marine Laboratory, the University of Florida Tropical Aquaculture Laboratory and Ringling College of Art and Design.