The Big Eclipse at NSTA Portland
At the National Science Teachers’ Association area conference, held November 10-12 in Portland, Oregon, The Big Eclipse booth was a busy place.
While there, we met bona fide eclipse experts Dennis Schatz of the Seattle Science Center and Brian Kruse of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. We met science educators from the Pacific Northwest, and states including California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Missouri, and Vermont. We met teachers from Canada, and even one from Dubai!
What a wonderful opportunity to reach people who directly interact with students. So many are already planning units to teach about the 2017 total solar eclipse; several are planning to take groups to see totality. We shared the Big Eclipse information about some of the very cool effects that you can only experience during a total eclipse and our ideas for lessons linked to the 2017 eclipse. (Look for future blog posts with lesson plans.)
The best moment was when we met a science teacher who told us that the March 1970 total solar eclipse was the “transformative event of her childhood.” She described the sky growing very dark, the thousands of seagulls who grew quiet and came down from the sky thinking nighttime was beginning, the thrill of seeing shadow bands racing across the sands, and the beauty of the sun and its corona during totality.
Seeing the eclipse inspired her to study astronomy and science, and to pursue a career teaching high school science. We were so amazed by her story that we forgot to ask this teacher’s name! But, what a great story. It’s one that we hope will be repeated after the 2017 eclipse: That children who experience the 2017 eclipse will be inspired to learn more!