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Geodome inspires environmental and sustainability learning – Lowell Sun

Tingsboro – Unlike some of the other private schools in the area that lie within neighborhoods, Notre Dame Academy is blessed with a picturesque 200-acre campus.

There is plenty of room for recreation.

And learning.

Thanks to a generous anonymous benefactor, the Geodome – think of it as a science classroom in the woods – has been built a short distance from the main building.

Aiming to advance environmental science and sustainability programs, the geodome has already been a huge success on campus.

“The students were singing and dancing when they were planting the family,” said Principal James Flynn. “There are videos of her.”

It is the first building of its kind in Merrimack Valley. School officials say the nearest Geodome serving the school is in Maine, and this building is much smaller than the Academy building.

The geodium is 42 feet in diameter at the base and the dome’s roof is 16 and a half feet off the ground. It’s big enough for whole class visits.

Principal Vitoria Pacifico said the geodom has a “cool” factor for students, from pre-kindergarten kids to high school seniors.

“It’s not just the students. We’ve had parents who see it. Some of the board members. They’re all saying, ‘Wow, that’s amazing,'” said Pacifico.

Talking about photosynthesis, or growing crops, or solar panels, or multiple other topics is one thing. It’s another thing to watch in person. Geodome allows for year-round controllable and sustainable gardening.

“It gives students the opportunity to do a lot of practical work,” Flynn said. “It has become a field trip for our students.”

Geodome was purchased from Growing Spaces, a company based in Pagova Springs, Colo. , another area familiar with harsh winters and the difficulty of growing vegetables and herbs in cold weather.

Portions of the building were delivered to campus in October and assembled over five days. Students enthusiastically observed the progress of the geodium during its construction. The work inside is almost complete.

Students of all levels were asked to help build the interior of the geodome. Students put soil in different beds. I planted turnip, garlic and basil.

“The geodome is an outside learning lab for all of our students,” Flynn said. “Everyone has some ownership in it. The students are really excited about it.”

Catherine Doanmu, student, plans to pursue a STEM-based (STEM) major in college. Duanmu geodome dazzles. She said that many of her friends in Nashua, New Hampshire, where she lives, are jealous when she describes the Judom.

“When I first looked at the geodome, I was amazed,” she said. “Science is one of the most interesting topics. As a young man, I have many concerns about climate change. We must make it a top priority. I am very grateful to own the geodome.”

The geodome also houses a 3,000-gallon aquarium. Sixteen fish – a mix of goldfish, goldfish, and butterfly loach – swim in the large tank. Snails have been introduced to help keep the area clean.

Solar panels supply the aquarium with energy. The tank absorbs heat from the morning and releases it later in the day.

There is no electricity in the geodome, because all the elements work with each other in order for the building to be successful.

Since there are few geographic areas anywhere near campus, and advice can be difficult to obtain, school representatives say the upcoming winter will present many challenges. Mistakes are likely to be made. But this is part of the learning.

“Personally, I think it’s more fun,” Flynn said. “We know that a lot of learning is done through trial and error. It is the science in action.”

Pacifico said the geodome is part of a five-year strategic plan, the “bold” rethinking of the school’s mission. She hopes the grounds will be a reason for students to study at the school, which is just off Route 3.

“We continue to strengthen our scientific program,” she said.

The Academy of Notre Dame, often abbreviated as NDA, has been in its current location for nearly 100 years. Founded by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur at St Patrick’s in Lowell in 1854, the school moved to Tingsboro in 1927.

“Kids are learning all over the campus and that is one of the reasons why NDA is so unique,” ​​Pacifico said. “It’s something we definitely market. Students are interested in NDA because of environmental science.”

“Looking at plants in their own environment is different than looking at them in a lab,” Duanmu said.

Soil-filled beds have been arranged at different heights throughout the geodome since the school teaches pre-kindergarten to high school students.

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