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Getting Ready for 'Nature's Greatest Show'


Getting ready for ‘Nature’s Greatest Show’

For the first time in 100 years, a total solar eclipse on April 8 will be visible in Syracuse and other parts of Upstate New York, an awe-inspiring event that is expected to draw thousands of visitors from around the world.

STEM Teacher-Trainer Angela Francis

Under the direction of Coordinator Chris Leece, the  STEM team in Instructional Support Services has been preparing educators for this rare occurrence, sharing safe viewing strategies and a multitude of science and math lessons for students at all grade levels. Already, hotels are full and flights are packed for visitors coming to cities like Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo to take it all in.

In December, STEM teacher-trainer Angela Francis held an all-day workshop with elementary and secondary science teachers to plan for the eclipse. Teachers learned about several ways to engage their students in the excitement of the event, including:

  • Having students add bling to their NASA-approved viewing glasses so they can have fun and view the eclipse more safely. Staring directly at the sun can cause serious eye damage.

  • Creating a “pin-hole” viewer out of cereal boxes and aluminum foil so students can see the eclipse unfolding at the bottom of the box without looking at the sun.

  • Blowing bubbles into red and orange paint to create models of the sun with “surface gases,” then looking at their creations through a tube with different colors of cellophane to model solar images across the electromagnetic spectrum.

  • Replicating the sun-earth-moon system using different-sized lollipops and distances to create a solar eclipse using a simple image of the sun and holding out some lollipops at various distances to replicate the moon.

Angela had other stations, too, with maps, safe viewing messages, a hole-punch activity and other activities for teachers to consider.