Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Eclipse 2017: Take the kids out of school?

Another frequently asked question relates to taking the kids out of school to watch the solar eclipse. For me it was never a question. I had experience as an amateur astronomer kid wanting to see an eclipse but being denied. It did not sit well. So yes, take them out of school for the eclipse!

While some schools may try to make the most of the experience, most will err on the side of caution and not allow the students to see the eclipse.

This is not a teaching decision, it is a management one. How do you manage a large crowd of kids intent on looking at the Sun? Is there a chance some may have eye damage by doing things wrong? Is there any way to make sure everyone is safe and enjoys the experience? These are not easy questions to answer. Thus the logical decision is to keep the kids inside.

The one solution that works is for parents to get involved in the eclipse with the kids. Build a box to project the image through a hole, build a solar filter (only use proper materials), or look for images of the eclipse in the shadows (projected through small holes - trees and bushes work well).

Different age levels will experience the eclipse event differently. Very young children may be impressed at the moment, but it will not stick with them except as a vague memory. New experiences are common for young minds, the special nature of a total solar eclipse does not matter as much. Once in elementary school it is possible to make the event more memorable by building a viewing device and the travel education. Travel is one of the greatest tools in education, if you can, use it. Kids in high school and college will appreciate the unique nature of the event more but may not seem all that impressed at the time. Later in life they will remember them fondly. And once again, the travel is important for their education.

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