The 360° planetarium dome, created by Immersive Experiences, offers children a sensory learning experience of the planetarium system. Picture: Supplied
The 360° planetarium dome, created by Immersive Experiences, offers children a sensory learning experience of the planetarium system. Picture: Supplied

Help Cape special needs school get planetarium dome it won to SA

By Kelly Jane Turner Time of article published May 7, 2021

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Cape Town - Teachers from Rusthof LSEN, a special needs school in Strand, were ’’over the moon’’ when they won a digital planetarium dome for their learners, but a bump in the road came when they realised shipping it from London and setting it up would be too costly.

The 360° dome, created by Immersive Experiences, is valued at R142 000 and offers children a sensory learning experience of the planetarium system.

Shipping the prize and buying additional equipment for the dome to function would cost the school over R58 000.

Educator Jevonn Cloete said the school is raising funds to get the planetarium to South Africa because it would be an incredible, immersive experience for the learners, who mostly come from underprivileged backgrounds.

“We need to give our special needs kids the opportunity to experience a sensory activity like no other,” he said.

In March, Rusthof deputy principal Zelda Botha attended a virtual SchoolScape IT conference where the planetarium dome was the grand prize.

“Having the planetarium at the school will be amazing and we would be able to invite other surrounding schools to view it,” she said.

Rustof is raising funds to get their prized planetarium to South Africa from the UK. Graphic: Kelly-Jane Turner.

Student teacher Ashley Fraser said the planetarium would bring the children joy and allow them an escape from their daily challenges.

“After spending some time at Rusthof, I really got to experience what wonderful learners and staff make up the school, but I also learned of many of the learners’ difficult circumstances. I believe the surrounding schools and communities will also be able to benefit from this incredible prize.”

Cloete is currently hosting a weekly Zumba fitness class to raise funds for the shipping costs to get the dome to South Africa.

“Most of us special needs kids hail from poor socio-economic backgrounds where our parents can't afford bus fees or school fees. We try to give them experiences at the school, we want to bring the planetarium to the children,” he said.

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