Humble ISD Observatory

The Humble School District north of Houston is getting ready to do something only a handful of schools in the entire country have done. They're going to build an observatory on the campus of an Humble ISD elementary school. Houston Public Radio's Jim Bell reports.

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It's going to be a full scale observatory complete with a retractable dome on the campus of Jack Fields Sr. Elementary School in Humble. It will augment the school's science and astronomy curriculum, and it will be available to other school districts, Kingwood College, and the general public. Humble ISD Science Coordinator Donna Price says it will give science education in this area a much needed shot in the arm.

"That's where we're going. Earth and space science is an area that, really statewide, there have been achievement gaps for elementary as well as middle school students, and so the opportunity to have this there really kind of gives our kids an advantage I think."

The observatory will have three powerful reflector telescopes, and specialized computer software that will make the night sky viewable during the day in classrooms all over Humble ISD. Price says members of the North Houston Astronomy Club helped with site selection, and chose Fields Elementary as the best place for the observatory.

"There is the least light interference there, you know, from the light pollution that we have from the city lights, and all that really does interfere with star gazing."

The observatory will cost about $550,000 which is coming from corporate donations and an Humble ISD employee fundraising campaign. They hope to break ground sometime this summer, and have the observatory up and star-gazing early next year. Jim Bell, Houston Public Radio News.