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Solar Eclipse Resources

Bringing the Solar Eclipse to Your Classroom

Aug 11, 2017 2017-08-11

By Taylor Kremer

On August 21, 2017, a solar eclipse will occur in North America. Those in the path of totality-parts of Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and North and South Carolina—will see the moon completely eclipse the sun. Observers in the rest of the contiguous United States will see a partial solar eclipse. The solar eclipse is a perfect teachable moment for students. Whether you plan to watch live with your students or plan lessons around the eclipse, here are a few resources for teaching about the solar eclipse.

Viewing the Eclipse
If you're going to view the eclipse outside, you'll need to know when the best time for viewing is in your area. NASA created an accurate map for viewing the solar eclipse in the continental United States showing the time the eclipse will occur and where the total eclipse will be visible.

If you prefer to watch the eclipse inside, the Exploratorium, along with their NASA partners, will be filming and live streaming the event from locations in Oregon and Wyoming. The eclipse can be viewed with live coverage from Exploratorium educators and NASA scientists (including in Spanish), with live musical sonification and accompaniment by the Kronos Quartet, or without narration. You can watch the live stream from the website or via the free Android or iOS Total Solar Eclipse app.

Take your class outside and view the eclipse together. Follow these instructions from the American Astronomical Society for building a sun funnel for group viewing. If you're looking for something a bit simpler, the Exploratorium has instructions for making a pinhole projector, including how to magnify the sun's image using binoculars.

Teaching the Eclipse
The eclipse may only last a few hours, but students can continue learning long after the eclipse is over.
  • Make your own classroom eclipse with this activity from Universe Awareness.
  • With “Eclipses Across the Curriculum,” from the National Science Teachers Association's Science and Children magazine, you can explore ideas for teaching elementary students about the eclipse across a wide range of subject areas including science, math, English/language arts, social studies, and physical education.
  • NASA's Eyes Eclipse 2017, an interactive, 3D simulation of the total eclipse, let's student's see the eclipse from anywhere on the planet. Students can change the view to observe the perspective from behind the far side of the moon, or have a look at the entire Earth/Moon/Sun system over two years to see why eclipses don't happen frequently. The simulation can be used on the web or downloaded as a desktop application.
  • Getting Ready for the All American Eclipse!: An NGSS Storyline Approach to Classroom Instruction” from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific discusses how to use the solar eclipse to engage students in a Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) storyline with a coherent sequence of investigations to give them an in-depth understanding of eclipses.
  • NASA has provided a selection of math challenges that take students at all grade levels and abilities through the basic math of the eclipse.

This is just a small selection of the resources available for the solar eclipse. We’d love to hear what you’re planning to use in your classroom. Leave us a comment below!


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