HARTSVILLE, S.C. – The Darlington County Library System can now bring the planetarium experience to Darlington County residents with a StarLab portable planetarium system.
Dubbed the Darlington Discovery Dome Planetarium, the new StarLab system is a professional-grade planetarium system that consists of a dome that inflates to more than 18 feet in diameter that is equipped with a projection and sound system that delivers educational and entertaining astronomy programs about the solar system and universe, as well as other subjects.
The StarLab system will bring more STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) educational opportunities to students and adults in Darlington County, said Jimmie Epling, director of the Darlington County Library System.
The Sonoco Foundation donated $24,000 to purchase the $35,000 system.
“This would not have been possible without the help of the Sonoco Foundation," Epling said.
The Hartsville Memorial Library hosted a special presentation on July 30 to recognize the Sonoco Foundation for its role in acquiring the planetarium.
“We're really proud to be part of this outstanding project that will provide STEM-based programming to area students and bring the joy of stargazing and astronomy alive for children,” said Roger Schrum, vice president of investor relations and corporate affairs for Sonoco and chair of the Sonoco Foundation.
Children who participated in the Darlington County Library System’s Summer Reading and Learning Program, a “Universe of Stories,” and achieved the highest reading level this summer were among the first to discover the universe through the new planetarium when it debuted on Aug. 2 at the Darlington Library branch.
Inspired by this year’s summer reading program theme, space, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, the library system staff began work several months ago exploring how the library might obtain the unique educational system, Epling said.
The library was able to obtain the StarLab at the beginning of July so that those children who attained the highest reading level could be the first to experience a StarLab show.
The library plans to loan the Darlington Discovery Dome to schools and other organizations after the beginning of the school year.
One reason the library obtained the StarLab portable planetarium is the recognition that many children and community members have transportation issues that prevent them from visiting a planetarium, Epling said. With StarLab, the library can make this unique educational experience possible for all of Darlington County, he said.
“With this, we can bring the planetarium experience to those who might not otherwise have that opportunity,” Epling said. “It’s an educational tool that gives us the opportunity to give that to the community.”
For more information about the StarLab Planetarium, contact Director Jimmie Epling at 843-398-4940, ext. 8, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Darlington County Library branch locations:
>> Darlington, 204 N. Main Street, 843-398-4940.
>> Hartsville, 147 W. College Ave., (843-332-5115.
>> Lamar, 103 E. Main St., 843-326-5524.
>> Society Hill, 114 Carrigan St., 843-378-0026.