We have an exciting event coming here to the upper Willamette Valley! The solar eclipse will cross our state offering 100% totality in many locations. It’s exciting and a wonderful opportunity to educate children about the amazing world we live in!
First and foremost, safety!!
On Monday, August 21, there will be a solar eclipse where the moon covers the sun for as long as three hours. Depending on where you are, the process will begin about 9am and continue until 11:45, with totality occurring around 10:19 – 10:21am (Pacific Northwest).
Parents – if you are viewing the eclipse with your child it is imperative to teach them how important it is to protect their eyes. Looking at the sun can burn your eyes just like not wearing sunscreen can burn your skin. Eyes need protection like sunglasses when you are NOT looking directly at the sun. And when an eclipse occurs, the time spent looking at the sun is far greater than just glancing at it and there is potential for damage, even blindness. So make sure you have eye protection that is designed for long term viewing of the sun!! Check your glasses to verify they are certified for ISO 1231-2 (and NASA recommends purchasing from an American manufacturer). Here is a great article detailing safety with children.
The recommendation is one adult for three or fewer children to make sure they continue to wear the protection. Older children get it. They’re more likely to leave those glasses on.
Younger children, however, are curious. They might want to see what it looks like without the glasses. Adult supervision every second is important to prevent this!
Shoe box viewers are great if you don’t have glasses, but also require supervision.
So what do you do if you are at a child care center and this amazing event is coming by? Well, I don’t suggest you put glasses on everyone and head outdoors! Keep the children indoors and close the blinds. This will remove any temptation to look unprotected. We’re putting up black paper on the windows with holes in it. When the sun shines through you can see the dots and as the moon passes over, you’ll see the shadow of it passing the sun. A totally safe way to view the process of the solar eclipse.
NASA has some great ideas to use with early learners. This is a fantastic time to start talking about astronomy and space! Talk to your class about the earth’s rotation around the sun and moon’s rotation around the earth. And what about all those other planets in our solar system?
The other things that happen during an eclipse are equally interesting. When the sun is fully eclipsed by the moon, it will get dark and colder. The nocturnal animals will awaken thinking it’s night and begin to make noise. As the moon begins its path across the sun, shadows through the trees will form crescent shapes on the ground. All these phenomena are great to talk about before the eclipse, then again after they children have experienced it.
Enjoy this amazing experience – talk about it in the days to come. Hypothesize why this happens and then find out the real reason – learn new words – learn new science. We have hours of teachable moments ahead! Enjoy them!
© Copyright 2017 Helen Fern – Early Learning Tools NW