Geodesic Dome Greenhouse Outdoor Classroom Dedicated at Chamisa Elementary School

Principal Deborah Smith and Morrie Pongratz of the Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation, dedicate the new geodesic dome greenhouse Friday at Chamisa Elementary School. Photo by Bonnie J. Gordon/
Principal Deborah Smith shows Chamisa students how the solar vents in the greenhouse roof open and close to regulate the temperature inside the greenhouse. Photo by Bonnie J. Gordon/
Los Alamos Daily Post 
A new Geodesic Greenhouse outdoor classroom was dedicated Friday at Chamisa Elementary School in White Rock.

Volunteers constructed the greenhouse, which includes a pond and fountain. The pond will help control the temperature of the greenhouse and also house fish, Chamisa Principal Deborah Smith explained. The automatic climate control venting and the fountain’s pump are solar powered.

This summer, volunteers will construct 24-inch deep planting beds inside the greenhouse, Smith said. In the fall, Chamisa students will care for plants in the greenhouse while learning about soil, insect life, plant biology and ecology.

“The dome will be your science classroom next year,” Smith told Chamisa students at Friday’s dedication.

Smith explained to the students that the geodesic structure of the greenhouse allows the structure to get direct sunlight from every angle.

The project was funded through a collaborative effort between Chamisa and the Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation through a donation from the Rynd estate. The Rynds were a couple whose estate has been dedicated to fund educational projects chosen by the LAPS Foundation, explained Morrie Pongratz, president elect of the executive committee of LAPSF.

The LAPS Foundation is planning to help fund outdoor science education projects at every Los Alamos Elementary School. The greenhouse at Chamisa was chosen as the first to be funded.

“One of the things we like about this project is that it involves the whole community,” Pongratz said.

The LAPS Foundation will be reviewing projects submitted by other schools this year.

“We want to fund innovative projects that spark the imagination of young people,” Pongratz said.

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