Written by Mr. McConnell, Upper Team Instructor
Horizon Academy was lucky to be near the path of a total solar eclipse this August. As a science teacher, I have been looking forward to this educational opportunity for a long time. Our earth science textbook, published in 2008, even mentions the 2017 total solar eclipse.
Early in the day, it was raining heavily and I was ready to accept that all our preparation had been for nothing. Then around 11:00, when I was due to give our introductory presentation the sky began to clear. All the students gathered in the black box theater. I gave a short presentation about why eclipses occur and why it was important for us use safe solar viewing glasses. Afterwards, the sky was completely clear and we began to scramble to set up the activities hoping that the weather would hold. By noon, we were all set up and the sidewalks were dry.
The students rotated around to six educational activities. I refracted the sunlight through a prism to show the students the spectrum of visible light inside white light. Judy Cowin helped the students make cyanotype images with the energy of the sun. Natalie Bergman showed the students a safe view of the eclipsing sun using a pinhole viewer. Olivia Cowin taught the students about the sun’s central role in earth’s weather and monitored the weather as the sunlight dimmed. Mike Chamberlain led the students in a full body demonstration of the eclipse using a yoga ball as a sun. Lastly, Andi Meyer captured the students’ shadows by tracing them on butcher paper.
Then the eclipse began. We were able to see it reach its maximum before the clouds rolled back in. The students enjoyed a snack of Capri Sun and Oreos before going back inside. The event wrapped up with Doug McFarland telling the kids about how people have thought about eclipses throughout history. I couldn’t have asked for a better day of school. I was delighted to share this rare opportunity with our students.