Web Content Display Web Content Display

When Marist Students Return to School This Week, They Will Have Access to the New Science Wing and Astronomy Dome

Written by: Janice Neumann. Daily Southtown. August 19, 2019.


The new planetarium at Marist High School in Chicago promises to be a hit with students, who have already signed up for astronomy class in droves. Astronomy hadn’t been taught at the school for several years, but students and staff never lost interest.



“I tried to bring a lot of astronomy into physics as well and students just loved it” said Kevin Butler, a physics teacher who will be teaching astronomy this year. “It’s our best conversation.” Butler said two astronomy classes were planned but so many students were interested that the school added a third.


Teachers will be able to project locations on the planetarium screen in real-time, even showing where the sun hits. The 30-seat planetarium with double doors to block light was designed by Spitz, which also designed the immersive screen at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago. “We can eventually go to or show anywhere we want to,” said Butler, a Marist alum, about the state-of-the art 4K projectors.


But the dome is just one of the perks in the school’s new 28,000 square foot, 10-lab science wing. The two-story science wing features labs and classrooms dedicated to individual areas of science, including anatomy and physiology, forensics, biology, chemistry, environmental science and physics — which will have easy access to outside for experiments and observations.


The anatomy and physiology lab will have a glass-enclosed hospital room with computerized infant and child mannequins that can mimic real symptoms. The forensics lab will have a dedicated space for a crime scene and collecting and processing evidence. “Every concept we teach, we’ll be able to refer to the crime scene set-up,” said Carrie Spano, science department coordinator. “I’m a firm believer that space transforms learning.”


Each lab also has an 8-foot glass wall facing the hallway, allowing students who walk by to see what’s going on. Students can learn from 3D viewers with a touch screen menu outside of classrooms/labs for exploring subjects, including the muscular and skeletal systems of anatomy. There is also a saltwater aquarium for environmental science classes.


A heritage room on the first floor of the science wing will showcase the history of the Marist Brothers and their dedication to Catholic education. The high school opened in 1963.



Teachers had plenty of input into the new science wing, visiting area schools for ideas and suggestions on what would work for Marist. Staff said they liked the spacious labs with room to move furniture and supplies. “Before we had to pull things out … now we can direct the kids and they can grab what they need,” said Theresa Coy, who teaches honors biology and environmental science. “This will give ownership to the kids in doing science.”


Janice Neumann is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.