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Schools preaching science and prevention for Monday’s eclipse

Posted on Sunday, August 20, 2017 at 6:00 am

By Ken Jackson
Staff Writer
Even the sun and the moon will be suffering from “a case of the Mondays” next week.
Their getting in each other’s ways will create something not seen in 38 years and likely not seen again for at least another 20 — a total eclipse.
While the Osceola County School District is encouraging extreme care in looking at the sun (or not) and its moon shadow, with some principals going as far as moving all physical education and other outdoor activities inside after 1 p.m., a few science teachers are using the eclipse as a teaching moment about how the celestial bodies move around together.
For example, all Horizon Middle School students will head out to the soccer fields to experience the eclipse. Thanks to teacher donations and the work of the school’s science department, every student and teacher will receive viewing glasses.

According to the American Astronomical Society, large chain stores have been selling the specially equipped glasses for $2 to $4 per pair.

Earlier in the day, students will read articles from NASA discussing the sun and moon’s rotations.
Mill Creek Elementary, fifth graders will do special solar eclipse activities in their classrooms from 9:30-10:40 a.m. and then view the eclipse outside at 2:30 p.m. with special glasses teachers ordered.
Some STEM teachers across the county will build pin-hole boxes in order to view the eclipse. (A UCF tutorial on building one can be found at https://today.ucf.edu/eclipse-to-mark-1st-day-of-ucfs-fall-semester, or at www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6WXU5At38g).
But because of the potential eye damage that can come from looking right at the sun midday, students and staff are being told not to look directly at the sun during class changes, dismissal, or headed home without protective eyewear. Only students with signed parent permission will be permitted to participate in any outdoor activities.
P.M. Wells Charter Principal Alan Ramos, who previously led Discovery Intermediate — which had a coincidental partnership with the Discovery Channel to provide STEM content — said he understands the excitement of the cosmic event, and is encouraging science and kindergarten through fifth grade teachers to view the eclipse virtually through NASA’s live broadcasted feed (www.nasa.gov/eclipselive).
Outside of the schools, the Poinciana Branch Library will have an Eclipse Viewing Party from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. to mark the first time since 1917 that a total eclipse is visible in certain parts of the U.S. Enjoy games, activities and the special glasses will go on inside an outside viewing party.
In our area, while not in totality, about 85 percent of the sun will be blocked when the eclipse is deepest, around 2:40 p.m., according to a NASA report. Daylight will be reduced to what’s normally seen about an hour before sunset.
According to the American Astronomical Society, large chain stores have been selling the specially equipped glasses for $2 to $4 per pair. The AAS lists 7-Eleven, Best Buy, Circle K, Kirklands, Lowe’s, J, Toys “R” Us and Walmart, but call ahead to see if the store still has them in stock.