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Monday Morning Ready08.11.2017
Jumpstart Your Week!

On August 21, North America will experience the first total solar eclipse visible across the continent in nearly a century. It may seem illogical. But this period of semi-darkness is an important time to practice sun safety.... < read more >
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
Grade 3-4

Solar eclipses are a part of nature. Why do you think people find them to be so fascinating?

Grade 5-6

Would you rather view the eclipse through special glasses, binoculars, a telescope or a pinhole projector? Why?

Grade 7-8

Which do you consider to be the most amazing: That solar eclipses happen or that astronomers can predict-down to the minute-when and where they will occur? Why?

Grade 9-10

In the article, NASA scientist Madhulika Guharthakurta says that observing a total eclipse is similar to the way astronauts describe their first trip to space. She says, "You're just so in awe of nature." Do you agree with her comment? Do you think you might feel as she does after observing the eclipse for yourself? Why or why not?

LESSON PLAN
Host 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.
SMITHSONIAN RESOURCES
Smithsonian Learning Lab: Eclipses
From the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access, this collection includes art, tips for safely viewing an eclipse and eclipse science.

Smithsonian Solar Eclipse App
Download this app to watch a live NASA stream of the eclipse as it travels across the continental United States, calculate your view with the interactive eclipse map and get a virtual view in Smithsonian’s eclipse simulator.

Eclipse 2017
The videos, stories and lessons in this quick guide from the National Air and Space Museum tell you everything you need to know about the upcoming solar eclipse.

How to Make a Pinhole Projector to View the Solar Eclipse
You don’t need fancy equipment to safely view the eclipse. Watch this NASA video to learn how to make a pinhole projector out of a cereal box and a few other simple supplies.

Lunar Eclipses and Solar Eclipses
On Earth, we experience two types of eclipses: solar and lunar. But what’s the difference? Have students review this NASA site for a simple explanation.

How Eclipse Anxiety Helped Lay the Foundation for Modern Astronomy
Read this Smithsonian article to learn how the same unease you feel when the moon blots out the sun fueled ancient astronomers to seek patterns in the skies.

Discover the Solar Eclipse of 1900 in Historic Wadesboro, NC
Use this lesson plan from the National Park Service to teach students about another total solar eclipse that passed over North America more than 100 years ago.

Watch a Partial Solar Eclipse From Space
Can’t wait for the big event? Watch this video of a partial solar eclipse that occurred on May 25, 2017—as it was seen from space.
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