Stockton Unified School District

Creating an Immersive Learning Experience for Stockton Unified School District Students


Key Factors

Ease of use

Located in Stockton, California, Stockton Unified School District (SUSD) includes 42 K-12 schools and serves approximately 38,000  students. The diverse district includes dependent and independent charters, as well as large comprehensive high schools and smaller secondary schools.


In support of the state’s recent move to add science assessment and scores to the California School Dashboard, SUSD looked to expand STEM programming and increase access to science education for all students in the district. To support these goals, Stockton invested in six new Starlabs, portable learning domes designed to bring astronomy, geology, meteorology, and other STEM subjects to life for students. 


With the ability to advance STEM education across grade levels and curricula aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards, Starlab would create fully immersive learning experiences for more students, deepen their understanding of the world around them, build growing interest in STEM-related disciplines, and expand scientific literacy skills across its student population.




Expanding Access to Astronomy & Space Science for Underrepresented Students

In an urban environment, where many Stockton schools are located, light pollution and high poverty rates prevent many students from observing the skies or traveling to locations where such observation is possible. As a result, many concepts around space and astronomy remain nebulous and hard for students to understand. For Stockton, this was an opportunity to address the gap by creating a more immersive learning experience that helps students engage with and understand complex subjects. 


The District was excited to use Starlab to help accomplish their goals:


  • Deliver a fully immersive learning experience, generating the sharpest images possible so students could easily visualize the details of our vast universe.
  • Help students directly connect concepts from instruction to the real world in a way that leads to deeper understanding of course content.
  • Support more effective instruction, giving teachers better ways to teach subjects like astronomy, geology, meteorology, and geography.


With Starlab, they’re able to provide students with an engaging experience similar to a planetarium, which unfortunately is too costly and far for most Stockton students.


Setting Up Students for Success & Deeper Engagement

One of the most important considerations for adopting Starlab was ensuring that it would be easy to train teachers across the district on how to use it in their schools. In order to scale this initiative, Stockton identified and trained a key person at each school across the district, giving teachers a key contact person onsite if needed. 


Every Starlab system comes equipped with a dome, projector system, pre-loaded curricula & lessons–and can be easily set up in under 20 minutes. This made it much easier for the District to ensure teachers would feel confident using Starlab at their schools. 


The curricula that comes with Starlab also includes pre-designed lessons and scripts that are aligned to NGSS standards, making it easy for teachers to incorporate Starlab into their curricula and adapt it across grade levels. 



“Starlab is the highlight of the curriculum for most students. It’s a fun, different learning experience. It’s riveting and unlike anything they do the rest of the year. For example, teachers are able to display the fine surface details visible on the moon and terrestrial planets and explain the geological processes that have shaped those bodies. The acoustics, videos, slides, and images display in such crisp detail that you’ll feel like you’re there,” Marcus shared.

Increasing Scientific Literacy Throughout the District & Community

In addition to using it as part of classroom curriculum, Starlab serves as a central element of each school’s STEAM Fairs, where district community members of all ages can experience Starlab. During the 15-minute Starlab experience, people are immersed in an out-of-this-world learning adventure. From experiencing an eclipse up close to seeing our return to the moon, Starlab shows people the far away wonders of our universe right before their very eyes, expanding interest in STEAM related subjects for all members of the community.

Using Starlab is also a more inclusive approach to learning. It lends itself well to students’ diverse backgrounds, physical abilities, and learning needs, providing a level of immersion and interactiveness that lessons prior to Starlab lacked. This allows students to more easily visualize concepts being taught and more deeply engage them in the materials–without ever leaving school. 


With such a successful use of Starlab during the 2023-24 school year, SUSD looks to build on this momentum and have all 42 schools in the district incorporate it into their curriculum so every student can experience it.