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Host a Solar Eclipse Event

Students will identify topics related to the science and history of a solar eclipse and conduct research to learn more. They will create presentations to share what they learned with others during a solar eclipse event.

PROCESS:

  1. Display the American Astronomical Society's map showing when and where to see the upcoming solar eclipse. Invite a volunteer to identify your school's location on the map. Have students determine what portion of the eclipse they will be able to see. If your school does not lie in the path of a total solar eclipse, challenge students to calculate how far they would need to travel to see one.
  2. Inform students that total solar eclipses are rare, but they have occurred throughout history. Now, we know much about them. But long ago, that wasn't the case. People were scared because they didn't understand what was happening. They wrote myths in an attempt to explain.
  3. Present a list of topics related to the science and history of solar eclipses or have students brainstorm ideas of their own. Inform them that they will conduct research to learn about these topics. Challenge students to identify a variety of creative ways that they can present the information to others. 
  4. Assign topics or have students select one of their own. Then give the class time to conduct research and create presentations that showcase what they learned. Invite other classes to tour your solar eclipse event.

ASSESSMENT: 

As a class, create short quizzes for visitors to complete after touring your event. Tailor one quiz for younger students, one for older students and one for teachers or other adult visitors. Be sure to include at least one question related to viewing safety on each quiz. Have students grade the quizzes and analyze the results. Did visitors understand their message about viewing safety? If not, what could they have done better?

CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON:

Grades 3-4:
Divide the class into small groups. Assign each group one of the following topics: What is a solar eclipse? When and where have solar eclipses occurred in the past? What part of the upcoming eclipse will they see and why? What are some myths about eclipses? Why can an eclipse hurt your eyes? How can people protect their eyes while watching an eclipse? Give groups time to conduct research. Provide assistance as needed. Encourage them to create an interesting and accurate presentation for your event.
Grades 5-6:
As a class, brainstorm a list of topics related to the solar eclipse. If necessary, add viewing safety, mythology and the geography of the upcoming eclipse to the list. Divide the class into small groups. Assign each group a topic and give them time to conduct research. Encourage groups to create an interesting and accurate presentation for your event.
Grades 7-8: 
Divide the class into pairs. Instruct partners to identify a topic related to the science or history of solar eclipses that they would like to learn more about. Review selections to ensure there are no repeats. Then give students time to conduct research. Encourage partners to create an interesting and accurate presentation for your event.
Grades 9-10:
Divide the class into pairs. Instruct partners to identify a topic related to the science or history of solar eclipses that they would like to learn more about. Review selections to ensure there are no repeats. Give students time to conduct research. Once research is complete, rejoin as a class. Challenge students to identify the best way to present each topic in a unique way that still results in a cohesive event. Give students time to then create their presentations.