How Schools Can Turn the Solar Eclipse Into an Unforgettable Science Lesson

By Elizabeth Heubeck for Education Week

If the weather cooperates, science students of all ages could be in for quite a show on April 8. The first sign will be a sudden temperature drop. The sky will darken, and winds will shift. A dark shadow will appear on the horizon. Faint waves of light may waft across the ground. A ring of bright light will shine from the outer edges of the otherwise darkened sun. Then the moon will cover the sun completely and, for a few seconds, a thin red layer may appear around its outer rim.

This fantastical display describes a total solar eclipse, which happens in the same place on the planet only an average of once every 366 years, according to experts. It’s also the sort of once-in-a-lifetime occurrence that can get kids super excited about science—a worthwhile goal, especially amid a barrage of reports of disengaged students and sky-high rates of absenteeism.

The impending total solar eclipse raises several questions for educators—from how best to expose students to both its sheer magnificence and its value as a learning tool to, more broadly, how to infuse other ‘real world’ science lessons into the classroom. To get answers to these questions, Education Week reached out to science education guru Dennis Schatz, a senior fellow at the Institute of Learning Innovation, past president of the board of directors for the National Science Teaching Association, and advisor to the Smithsonian Science Education Center.

Read more here.


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