AllentownSchool District

Allentown School District Opens Learning Dome to the Lehigh Valley Community

Allentown School District Opens Learning Dome to the Lehigh Valley Community
Posted on 09/25/2019

The Allentown School District is excited to announce the first series of public events that will be held at the newly refurbished Learning Dome.

During the weekend of October 5 & October 6, 2019, the Learning Dome will open its doors to the public for the very first time with three showings on each day. The Learning Dome is located within Dieruff High School but will be open to all students and members of the community. Showings will last approximately 45 minutes and will begin promptly at 11:00 AM, 1:00 PM and 4:00 PM on both days. Tickets are free but must be reserved and printed through Eventbrite. Forty (40) seats will be available for each showing, which is the maximum capacity of the room.

Click here to reserve your seat today!

Attendees will be taken on a journey through space, led by one of six ASD teachers who have received special training on how to use the new system and software. The six teachers span K-12 grade levels and teach in different schools throughout the district. Throughout the school year, ASD anticipates that many teachers will take advantage of this unique interactive learning space and bring students during the regular school day. 

Originally constructed in 1965, the planetarium was considered state-of-the-art technology for the time. For decades, the planetarium allowed ASD students to come to Dieruff High School to learn about the stars and space. Eventually the technology became dated and the space sat unused for several years. Shattering the idea of what a traditional planetarium set up can offer, the new Learning Dome features high tech operating and projection systems and interactive technology.

While the Learning Dome is housed at Dieruff, the district plans to share the experience with the entire Lehigh Valley. Moving forward, ASD hopes to work with community partners and outside organizations provide showings for a wider audience.

The effort to revitalize the space began in 2018 and was led by Lee Butz. Organizing donations from private citizens and many members of the Allentown business community resulted in raising the funds needed to fully refurbish the technology and amenities within the Learning Dome. A number of local community leaders pledged their support, including State Senator Pat Browne, who personally secured $200,000 in funding. 

“The opening of the Learning Dome represents not only the addition of a valuable teaching tool for our students and community. It also expands our philanthropic support and district partnerships, both of which, are identified in the District’s Strategic Framework where the school board prioritized a commitment to meaningful and deep collaboration with our families and community,” said Thomas Parker Superintendent of the Allentown School District. “On behalf of the District, I extend a heartfelt thank you to our donors and pledge that the Learning Dome will be used to further our commitment to excellence for all ASD students.”

A private ribbon cutting was held on August 23 to thank those who made this project possible. Attendees included, Ellen Kern, chief of staff to Senator Pat Browne, State Representative Mike Schlossberg, representatives of Alvin H Butz Inc., members of the Allentown School District Board of Directors and administration. A commemorative plaque mounted outside of the Learning Dome recognizes the names of those who generously supported the renovation.