Kitimat LNG Brings the Stars to Northern British Columbia

More than 350 Kitimat residents enjoyed the opportunity to explore the planets and solar system as astronauts for a day through a unique, interactive science exhibit brought to northern British Columbia through support from Chevron. 

Chevron, through Kitimat LNG, is partnering with Vancouver’s H.R. MacMillan Space Centre to bring its Starlab digital portable planetarium to B.C. schools. The portable planetarium offers the same presentation capability as the centre’s regular planetarium, including the ability to customize content to match requests from audience members.  For example, if a student is interested in Mars, the presenter can display imagery to show what it would look like to be standing on that planet’s surface.

Students pose in front of planetarium

The Starlab portable planetarium program is directed primarily at Grades 3 and 6 students who cover space science as part of the B.C. curriculum.

“We are proud to support the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre in helping students in their exploration of science, technology, engineering and math,” said Deidre Reid, Kitimat LNG Social Investment manager.

“We hope the Starlab and the related content delivered by the engaging and enthusiastic team from the space centre will help these subjects come alive for students in northern B.C.”

The Starlab was open to the public at a recent launch event in Kitimat, which also featured educational and craft opportunities, including “make your own solar system” headbands, mission badges, Chevron giveaways, and more.  District of Kitimat Mayor Phil Germuth also spoke at the event.

“We heard from northern communities that there was a need for more interactive learning experiences that schools and other community educators could access locally,” said Reid. “We’re pleased that we were able to make it possible for a tremendous resource like the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre to remove the geographic and financial barriers that might otherwise exist for northern communities to access the centre’s educational opportunities.”

Comments from teachers attending the kickoff  event included, “This was an amazing experience!”  One local teacher commented, “The students are currently studying space, and this makes it so much more interesting for the kids to want to learn!”

Chevron is also offering support for the space centre to hire and train two educators to help develop study programs and other resources that will build on the planetarium tour experience throughout the year for schools and communities in Kitimat and all along the proposed Pacific Trail Pipeline route. Those programs may include distance learning through satellite technology, virtual learning, as well as interactive methods.

In the kickoff week of April 21, the exhibit visited schools in Kitimat, Terrace and Hazelton, as well as the Haisla school in Kitamaat Village. The 2015 tour will continue at various schools across northern B.C. through the end of the school year in June. 

Following the summer break, Chevron’s support will allow the Starlab to tour schools all along the proposed Pacific Trail Pipeline route over the next two years, including Smithers, Burns Lake, Houston, Vanderhoof and Prince George.