TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - The structure looks like it belongs on the likes of Mars or the moon, but the smooth white surface and rounded curves of the Mewbourne Science Explorium have a scientific purpose here on Earth: to help instruct students at All Saints Episcopal School.
All Saints is currently constructing a monolithic domed building as its new science classroom as part of the last phase of its ‘Honor Our Past, Imagine Our Future’ capital campaign.
“It’s an experiential science lab that really has a unique learning experience that really allows our students, that they’re going to go into a monolithic dome -- a unique instruction -- and learn actually about the space itself," said Mike Cobb, head of school at All Saints. “But also to have this experience every time they walk in that they will be able to go on a journey to Mars that day, or under water.”
As students enter into the dome, they’ll be stopped at the prep chamber, which will brief students on what they’ll be learning that day, Cobb explained. Once students go inside, the scientific experience begins.
“A door will then open up with a green light experience that will take them inside,” Cobb said. “There will be displays around the exterior of the dome that will look like they’re actually looking out the window or a porthole of a spacecraft. That will allow them to have a panoramic view of wherever we’re taking them that day. Again, it could be a journey to Mars, a journey underwater, to the jungle; wherever we decide to take them that day in the science lab experience.”
Students were tasked with brainstorming ways to create an engaging learning experience. The students first ideas were how to build something similar to the Magic School Bus, Cobb explained, which was narrowed down into a more appropriate approach: a dome which offered similar experiences that could bring their dreams to life.
The dome is 12,000 sq. ft. made with light-weight, energy-conserving foam material, rebar, and shotcrete.
Cobb said the Mewbourne Science Explorium will be ready for students when they return to school in the third week of August.
“This is a true engineering feat,” said Cobb. “This science dome of awesomeness is going to be an amazing learning space for our youngest learners.”