Eclipse imminent! Try out these interesting activities with students

These eclipse apps and learning activities will be just as engaging on the days leading up to the big event.

A solar eclipse is a little more than a week away and even if your school isn’t in the so-called “path of totality,” you and your teachers should seize the opportunity to connect the celestial spectacle to what kids are learning in class. For those administrators closing school on April 8, know that these eclipse apps and learning activities will be just as engaging on the days leading up to the big event.

Before you dive into all the ideas, check out NASA’s map to see if the total eclipse will be visible in the skies above your community.

A few educational eclipse apps

  1. Live stream! Available on the NASA app.
  2. Eclipse companion: Totality by Big Kid Science is a “solar eclipse companion” featuring interactive maps, safety tips and access to books and other educational resources.
  3. Got pics? The Solar Snap Eclipse App Kit aims to help viewers take photos of the eclipse
  4. Forecast and foresight: The Eclipse App offers cloud forecasts and an up-to-minute guide on when to put on and remove eclipse glasses, among other features.

Eclipse learning activities

  1. Middle school smarts: PBS has done all the work on a ready-to-go solar eclipse lesson plan for grades 6-8.
  2. Don’t forget the moon! The American Astronomical Society has a long list of activities, including building pinhole viewers and exploring the moon.
  3. UV bead experiment: A wide range of NASA activities—including a “UV bead experiment” and eclipse models—have been collected in one place by Arizona State University.
  4. Measuring shadows: Exploring cultural beliefs about eclipses, pinhole viewer art and shadow analysis are among Big Kid Science’s learning activities.
  5. Pop a balloon: A magnifying glass can concentrate the sun’s energy on a tiny spot of an inflated balloon. During the eclipse, kids will notice the sun’s energy diminishing as the temperature drops slightly (from Scholastic).
  6. Construction paper sun prints: Have children collect leaves, flowers and other natural items with interesting shapes. Place these items on construction paper left out in the sun. Cover with clear plastic (also from Scholastic).
  7. Fresh concepts: The American Astronomical Society has published an e-book and a video on how teachers can prepare for the eclipse.
  8. Poetry in motion: The University of Southern Indiana has an extensive list of eclipse learning activities for elementary to high school. Students can analyze Emily Dickinson’s 1891 eclipse poem, “It Sounded As if the Streets Were Running,” or estimate the speed of the lunar shadow.
  9. Webinar wisdom: The National Science Teaching Association has posted teaching resources to help educators make the most of the solar eclipse.
  10. Arts and astronomy: Here are six hands-on eclipse crafts from the Exploratorium in San Francisco.
  11. Eclipse investigations: Vernier Science Education shared “7 Tips and Ideas to Make the Eclipse Engaging for Your Students
  12. Eclipse experiments: Rice University is sharing ideas for activities and experiments along with animations and lists of viewing equipment.
  13. Eclipse engineering: Learn to design a mobile observatory (from LEGO Edcuation).
  14. Motion and light: Four “mini missions” guide kids in building illuminated models of the eclipse (also from LEGO Edcuation).
  15. More free stuff! Teachers Pay Teachers has a list of free solar eclipse learning activities.

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Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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