Star Attraction: College of San Mateo Partners With Chevron Energy Solutions to Bring Science, Astronomy to Elementary School Students
Planetarium's "Project Star Gaze" Illuminates Science Concepts
SAN MATEO, Calif., Nov. 15, 2004 -- College of San Mateo (CSM) and Chevron Energy Solutions, a subsidiary of ChevronTexaco (NYSE: CVX), today announced they have teamed up to expand CSM's planetarium program outreach to local schools, with the goal of sparking an interest in science among younger students.
Currently the only operating planetarium on the Peninsula, CSM's astronomy dome has served thousands of college students and community members since 1963. It is also one of the only facilities in the country to project images from its telescope onto a 15-foot back-lit screen for real-time viewing by large audiences.
More recently the planetarium has become an engaging science classroom for hundreds of elementary school students each year, with demonstrations like color "fingerprinting" of celestial gases and interactive presentations about constellations. This outreach program, called Project Star Gaze, is a grassroots effort of CSM's astronomy department.
Now, with the help of a $5,000 donation from Chevron Energy Solutions to the San Mateo County Community Colleges Foundation, and additional support from the foundation, Project Star Gaze will be able to expand its program materials to reach hundreds more grade school students annually.
"Outreach is an essential element of our education program," said Darryl Stanford, professor of astronomy at CSM. "With this contribution, we can now produce handouts, program brochures and other communication materials that will help us connect with more students at younger ages."
"We're delighted to support Project Star Gaze," said Jim Davis, president of Chevron Energy Solutions. "Efforts like this can make a positive impression on young students and promote their interest in science."
In September, local elementary school teachers received invitations to schedule Friday afternoon field trips at CSM to view planetarium shows. Based on past experience, the CSM astronomy department expects to host as many as 10 visits this fall.
"It's enormously rewarding to see a young face light up with enthusiasm during a planetarium presentation," said Mohsen Janatpour, professor of astronomy at CSM. "Through projects like Star Gaze, along with our planned capital improvements, we hope to interest more children in science via astronomy – one of the primary goals of our Community Sky Search education program."
Project Star Gaze is part of Community Sky Search, CSM's long-term science education program developed in conjunction with its planned science building, planetarium and observatory that are currently under construction. In addition to these capital projects, which are earmarked for Measure C bond funds, Community Sky Search hopes to secure a grant or donation to fund a new 20-inch telescope and sky projector for the new facilities. Community Sky Search is designed to:
- provide students with genuine opportunities to gain direct observational experience using research-grade instrumentation;
- identify future prospective astronomers and provide mentoring support;
- provide opportunities for elementary school children to conduct hands-on science activities using a 20-inch telescope;
- provide elementary school teachers with opportunities to infuse hands-on science experiences into their curricula;
- offer a robust community outreach program that educates the public about astronomy and astronomers; and
- implement an observation-time program that ensures public access to the 20-inch telescope.
ChevronTexaco has been a long-standing contributor to education programs in the San Mateo County Community College District. In addition, Chevron Energy Solutions is nearing completion of a four-year program to upgrade the district's energy infrastructures. The program is reducing the district's energy costs by more than $1 million annually and increasing energy efficiency at its campuses.
For more information about CSM's astronomy program, please contact Mohsen Janatpour at 650.574.6272 or Darryl Stanford at 650.574.6256. For more information about Chevron Energy Solutions, please see the company's web site at www.chevronenergy.com
Updated: November 2004