Suncoast high school students produce planetarium show

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SARASOTA - Riverview High School is home to one of the few campus planetariums in the country. And now they're offering to students of all ages throughout Sarasota County a very unique learning program.

It begins with a locally produced planetarium show.

The premiere of Riverview's "Stars to Starfish" planetarium show happens this weekend. Riverview astronomy teacher Jason Mocherman is the planetarium's director. His father, the school's former astronomy teacher, wrote the show. "We developed Stars to Starfish. It’s a 20-minute planetarium show that talks about the uniqueness of Earth as being suitable for life," says Mocherman.

After taking in the stars, the students transition to the starfish in the nearby aquadome, where Riverview aqua-science students give the 5th graders a hands-on look at the sea life they just learned about. "It's really fun, because the kids, they get really excited from the video they see in the beginning and they actually get to see the same animals in the aquadome, so they're really excited," says Riverview student Alex Henderson.

“It gives them the opportunity to see how important the ocean really is, just to all life in general and how important it is to us specifically here in Florida," says student Viekson Van Wie.

Stars to Starfish took more than a year to produce, and features underwater photography by Riverview's art teacher, Jan Davis, and narration by a proud Riverview graduate: ABC 7’s Scott Dennis.

"It's a unique program; no other high school has a program like this. Very few high schools even have a planetarium, let alone a state of the art, digital planetarium the way we have. We are excited about our facility, but also excited about being able to produce our own content," says Mocherman.

The official premiere of Stars to Starfish happens Saturday night at Riverview High. The school is offering free showings every 30 minutes, from 7pm until 9 pm. You can also tour the school's aquadome.

And the Deep Sky Observers will have telescopes set up in the parking lot.