Solar Eclipse 2017 – teacher resources

Many of you are starting school before or on August 21st, the day of the Solar eClipse. This could be an activity for the whole school or just something for your class. 
Here are some potential resources for planning an activity.  Here in Northern California, it will be a ~80% partial eclipse, so you don’t need to go to Oregon for a learning experience.
Videos about the Solar Eclipse
This TED video by Andy Cohen (~4minutes) explains all the science behind Solar Eclipses and why this one is so rare.
Details about the Solar Eclipse in your Area. When does it start, max shading, how much shading, etc.
Eclipse details in your area. check this site.   here is for Sonoma County
Live Feed of the Total Solar Eclipse


Viewing the Solar Eclipse

Buying Solar glasses.  Astronomer approved glasses. order them now.   This is safeist way to enable you and your students to view the eclipse directly. Read more about safety of viewing the solar eclipse

Pinhole projector – great low cost and safe way to indirectly view the solar eclipse.  see below in the Solar Eclipse art section.



Effect of the Solar Eclipse on the California Electrical Grid.

CalISO (Independent System Operator) – Take the Pledge – Do your Thing for the Sun.  CalISO is the organization that manages the California electrical grid. With so many solar power installations on the grid now, how will the Solar Eclipse impact electrical generation and how will the CalISO manage this?
Solar Eclipse effects on Solar Power stations (rooftops, solar farms, etc.). (washingtonPost article)(SanDiego Tribune article with grid impacts graph)(article showing net impact on CA electrical grid)

Classroom ActivityAnalyze the effects of the solar eclipse on your schools solar array power generation (or evaluate the solar array from another school). If you have a solar array, ask your facility manager to share the link to the online realtime data. If you don’t have a solar array, evaluate one of the schools on the MySolarSchool table on this page.   One question is what % reduction in daily kWh (kilowatt-hours) is due to the solar eclipse?  Ideal is if the day before or the day after the eclipse are sunny days, as well as the day of the eclipse.  This will make it easier to note that any reduction in generation is due to the eclipse. The online data should provide the total daily kWh production for each day…. do the math from there.   Take a screen shot that shows the day of the eclipse and the day before or after for reference.   One of the challenges of increasing Solar Energy power generation on the electrical grid is to design in a way that stores energy for these moments – and while the eclipse is a rare occurence – what about cloudy weather and nighttime? 

Whole School Solar Eclipse activities
Learn from this school in Lincoln Nebraska how they are organizing this.  Other schools are closing! Don’t be shy, embrace the moment.

Lesson Plans and additional resources shared by California Academy of Sciences Distance Learning team. from the recent webinar titled “Phenomenon of a Solar Eclipse” posted on their google drive to share with other educators. 

Lessons and activities for Middle School.

Planning a Solar Eclipse Party (aka developing a plan for your class or school). This page from NASA is a decent summary.


Solar Eclipse ART!

Some of the best low-tech solar eclipse art can be created using pinhole projectors. I’m personally going to try the idea of taking a picture of the projection (showing the moonshadow on the sun) every few minutes during the eclipse, from when the moon starts to shade the sun to max shading and then as it moves back to full sun.  Then, putting these pics together in short video, ala time lapse.   This requires a tripod for camera, and something to hold the pinhole projector in same location (perhaps another tripod).  

Other pinhole art.  NASA has a page of 2d or 3d templates for pinhole projectors in the shape of your state  (here it is for California)or the whole country.  Have a friend take a picture of your shadow, the pinhole projector, and the sun/moon projection.


Cereal box pinhole solar eclipse viewer. how to make one.

Thinking of photographing the eclipse with a smartphone?. There is some homework to do to prep for it.
There are more Solar Eclipse Art ideas for you and your class. google for additional ideas or search Pinterest. Incorporate History into your art project. Great way for students to engage in studying the Solar Eclipse is to let them be creative.

 solar eclipse poster art by Tyler Nordgren
Visual Tools.
Solar fountain (aka pump in a bucket power by a PV module). Some of you have these solar fountains or something like it. Solar cells powering a whirlygig (spinning disc or wheel) is also an option.   Add an Digital Multimeter (DMM) in the Amp setting to measure the change in electrical current measured during the solar eclipse. Record time, amps, and observations…then plot them vs. images of the eclipse that you captured (or drew) during the eclipse.