With Aug. 21 scheduled as the first day of school for many Utah districts, the Salt Lake Tribune reports that many schools plan to hold solar eclipse viewing parties so students can participate in the momentous event.
The Granite School District is spending about $30,000 on protective glasses for all 68,000 students, and the Salt Lake City School District is leaving decisions about viewing activities up to local school administrators.
Experts warn against watching the eclipse without protective eyewear, and safety concerns are the primary reasons why some schools across the country will be closed on that day.
While some schools are still deciding whether to stay open or closed on the day of the eclipse, others that have already started the school year are looking for ways to maximize learning opportunities related to an event that has not taken place in the U.S. since 1918. Mystery Science, which provides science curriculum materials, teamed up with Google to deliver 15,000 eclipse viewing glasses to schools, but requests have already surpassed the demand, and now the organization is advising educators to check with local libraries for glasses.
Educators in Georgia’s Cobb County Public Schools have created grade-by-grade lesson plans related to the eclipse, from 1st graders using shadow puppets to learn about the concept of light to high school physics students learning about electromagnetic waves during the eclipse. And in Kentucky, a biology teacher at a private high school is offering 23 students a chance at a field trip to view the eclipse on the “path of totality,” but first they’ll have to turn in an application convincing him that they deserve to go.
According to Astronauts Without Borders, “this historic eclipse event also represents an unprecedented opportunity for STEM awareness and support of STEM education programs.” The nonprofit organization aims to provide eclipse learning resources to underserved communities and to mobilize its network of amateur astronomers to support teachers with lessons related to the eclipse. NASA has created an Eclipse 101 site with resources on how to safely watch the event, eclipse history and common misconceptions. The site will even live stream the eclipse. The American Astronomical Society also has a list of websites with educational materials related to this year’s event.