The countdown begins! It’s just one week until the 2017 solar eclipse hits much of North America midday on August 21. So today we have a roundup of some of the best resources for kids, parents, and educators about this rare event. Some schools around the country have struggled to decide whether kids are better off at school or at home, but everyone seems to agree that the event is an opportunity for incredibly diverse learning to happen around the science, math, and history of eclipses. For this overview I looked at some excellent web and video material for a general understanding of the what and how of it all. Then I look at how to find specific opportunities for students in the Alt Ed solar system: Austin and New York City. And at the end: a couple of my favorite extras.
I hope that for this particular Media Monday, educators, parents, and students will consider sharing their eclipse plans, photos, and experiences with us via social media so that we can learn from each other. If New York folks could share via Alt Ed NYC’s Facebook page and Austin folks could share via Alt Ed Austin’s Facebook page, we might end up with some wonderful alternative stories and some tips for the next eclipse!
PBS has put together a clear, easy-to-digest set of materials designed for educators but equally helpful for parents who are looking for activities, basic information, and videos. The site links out to many NASA materials too.
Speaking of NASA: Really, where else would you start your search for all things eclipsical? Comprehensive and authoritative, NASA has created a guide that’s great for those who don’t live near the path of totality, because they are offering so many terrific online options for learning. Kids can see a 3D simulation before the eclipse and then watch NASA’s livestream on Monday. The site links to several exciting Citizen Science opportunities.
My favorite option for kids (well, and for me!) is probably Science Friday’s Spotlight: The Great American Eclipse. The Spotlight guide is printable, perfectly illustrated, and includes lots of links out to additional great resources.
KQED’s Science team has also put together a terrific set of explainers, and I love Anna Kusmer’s discussion of the citizen science angle of the event. For example, kids can help gather data for the California Academy of Sciences, Life Responds project, which looks at effects of the eclipse on animals and plants. If you have a student who is into this topic, take a look at a news story from a few years ago about how insects, squirrels, and other animals respond to eclipses.
For older grade school kids through high school, National Geographic’s coverage is great fun, and their map is accessible and elegant. Among their offerings are photos taken over a hundred years of eclipse-watching and a great new article on animal reactions to eclipses.
More into the cultural and historical side of things? Take a look at Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings posts about astronomer Maria Mitchell’s thoughts on how to watch an eclipse and her account of the 1869 eclipse, Mabel Loomis Todd’s 19th-century guide to eclipses, and writer Annie Dillard’s essay on how strange and magical an eclipse is. The Atlantic reprinted the full Dillard essay last week. Round it all off with a New York Times story about the big impact of the 1919 Eclipse on the world of science.
To end Eclipse Day 2017: Gather around and watch PBS NOVA’s documentary, Eclipse Over America.
In Austin: Peak eclipse time: 1:10 PM (partial)
Taylor Goldenstein of the Austin American-Statesman has put together a very helpful list of eclipse events in Central Texas. It looks like the Round Rock Public Library is among the best options for viewing and learning fun.
In New York City: Peak eclipse time: 2:44 PM (partial)
The Hayden Planetarium is hosting an all-afternoon event that is sure to be fabulous. And many NYC libraries and museums are participating. Amy Plitt of Curbed.com put together a viewing guide that’s helpful.
More awesome stuff:
- The scientists of NASA have even created an eclipse musical playlist—because of course they did!
- My favorite astronomer, Phil Plait, did a short video Q and A.
- Want to go even deeper? Phil does an hour-long colloquium on the eclipse that’s available on video.
- Time magazine explains how to watch an eclipse like a 1960s schoolkid.
- And please tell me you’ve already bought the coolest postage stamps ever.