In February, Earth Science teacher Debora Shafer transported the NASA teaching DOME from the Dryden Flight Research Center in Palmdale to Hesperia High. For one week, her students benefited from this teaching mythology to expand their perspective about space via a NASA computer-generated presentation.

While inside, the class had to find the best position to view the slide show projected on the ceiling of the DOME. By randomly collapsing onto the floor and fitting into the confined space, they learned another lesson in physics. But unlike the particles in our universe, they didn't rotate or orbit again until the show was over.

Learning about the history of the telescope included a bigger-than-life view of the Hooker Telescope at Mount Wilson where Edwin Hubble discovered evidence for the expanding universe. The public is allowed to see the Hooker on site. Although current budget restraints make a class field trip something that would require wishing on the first nightly star, Mt. Wilson is close enough for interested individuals to make the trip to tour the Observatory.

We now have telescopes in space that look back on Earth and a view of the Doppler Effect demonstrates the warping of sound as it becomes warped as it passes into the atmosphere of the earth.

The entire ceiling surface of the DOME was filled with a view of our Milky Way Galaxy. A snapshot does not do justice to the awesome experience of being enveloped with the entire screen from a prone position in the dark. If our natural eyesight were as powerful as the refractive telescope from Keck and Hubble on Mt. Mauna Kea in Hawaii, this is what we could see naturally.

Use of the modern telescope is enhanced by downloading information and augmenting it with other scientific devices. Use of the data is limited only by humankind's imagination. An important theme is to search for the answer to the question of what makes up the dark matter in the universe. Perhaps one of these students will be inspired to further studies in science.

The energy of the stars in our Milky Way Galaxy is observed through an infrared lens. This allows viewing our Milky Way Galaxy in a manner beyond the ability of our eyesight.

Because of the tight quarters and the absence of outside noise or light, when inside the DOME, one feels a little like an astronaut might feel in space. Even entering and exiting the DOME through two layers of inflated insulated walls accentuated the awareness of stepping into a special space.

Our Hesperia students had other opportunities to learn science, math, technology and engineering skills in creative an innovative ways.

It's commendable that Sultana High School was given the opportunity to create a robotics league for VEX technology. The High Desert VEX League is comprised of 30 teams competing as 15 alliances. The Tortoise Tales January column described the activities going on since October and the rules for the construction of and competition of the robots. Participating in these events is remarkable in its own right and shows a mature level of discipline, organization, and originality.

The final competitions were held at Sultana on Feb. 25. Each match was comprised of a 20-second event in which the robots were preprogrammed to work autonomously. This was followed by a two-minute driver-controlled event. Alliances were required to win two out of three matches to advance to the next level.

Teams of the High Desert League advancing to the World Wide VEX competition at the Anaheim Convention Center on April 18-21 are: Spider, Poway High School A and B Teams; Chadwick, Palos Verdes Peninsula High; and Engineering Team 6, Orange Lutheran High. Spider Poway also received the revolving trophy for best team.

Placing third and fourth (but missing World Wide competition) were The French Toast Mafia A team from Sultana High and Scorpions from Hesperia High School. Not a bad showing for our Hesperia students. Surely high enough in the final placing to encourage them to compete to win next year.