There’s nothing quite like seeing the world from a bird’s-eye view and thanks to the Marie Drake Planetarium, Juneau students had the chance to do just that.
Marie Drake Planetarium concluded its final field trip for the year on Friday with a presentation of the story of Raven and the Box of Daylight, which is one of the best-known Indigenous stories in Southeast Alaska, according to Volunteer Educator Rosemary Walling.
While the story focuses on how Raven’s curiosity brought daylight to Earth, Walling explained how the tale is a jumping off point for exploring other planets, too.
“There are four treasures in the story of Raven and the Box of Daylight,” Walling said. “One is the stars, then the moon, the sun and then there’s daylight, it weaves in an art aspect and cultural aspect and then at the end we get to talk about those four things, plus there are a few things Raven didn’t quite get in one of his boxes like planets, so after the story I usually go to the moon and the Mars because we can fly places.”
Walling said over 700 students took field trips to the planetarium this year, which was largely due to a $1,000 grant from Douglas Dornan Foundation that allowed for students to be bused in from different schools. Montessori Borealis teacher Becca Gaguine’s class of first through third graders were the last of this year’s students to partake in the unique educational experience.
Ted Wilson, director of teaching and learning support for the Juneau School District, said one goal of the school district’s Teaching and Learning Support Center has been to include planetarium activities back into the school curriculum and also to add place-based and culturally responsive content and the Raven and the Box of Daylight is an “excellent place to start with that effort.”
“Several years ago friends of the Marie Drake Planetarium had started working on reinvigorating the planetarium, so they did some fundraising to purchase a new digital projector and as they were doing that they wanted to work with the school district to have opportunities for students to use the planetarium because it had been a lot of years since students had access to the planetarium,” Wilson said.
The show combined recorded segments of Tlingit weaver and storyteller Lily Hope with the sky as presented in the planetarium. Walling said in the future, she hopes to expand the show to include live storytelling or book reading.
“This is the first iteration of the Raven and the Box of Daylight; there’s so much more I’d like to do differently, but it’s just a matter of time. Over the summer it’s something we can improve,” Walling said. “If there was a storyteller that wanted to come in, it would be easy to replace the video segments with a real person.”
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