Metro Christian Academy Plans Solar-Eclipse Watch Party

The eclipse, happening August 21, 2017, has inspired this Tulsa-area school to plan a day of eclipse-themed activities and lessons.

The opportunity to take in the sight of a solar eclipse only comes around once in a blue moon, and educators at Tulsa’s Metro Christian Academy plan to take full advantage of the one that will occur on August 21 this year. On that day, the entire school will participate in a solar-eclipse watch party that will span the day and include everything from viewing the eclipse as it happens to lots of other solar-eclipse-themed fun, from special course lesson plans to decorations and treats.

According to Perri R. Blake, Metro’s Science Department chair, the eclipse itself will occur from 11:40 a.m. until 2:37 p.m. and will peak at 1:09 p.m. in Tulsa, when the sun will be 90 percent eclipsed.

Plans for the day evolved last March when a team of Metro’s science teachers were in Los Angeles attending the National Science Teachers Association Convention.

“One night, we were talking about the eclipse coming in August,” Blake said. “We all got excited about it on a personal level, and it just morphed from there. We remembered seeing the previous eclipse back in 1979; some of us even made pinhole viewers back then. The more we talked about it, the more we wanted our students to experience it.”

While organizing an all-day watch party for an entire school of students ranging from pre-K to high school seniors sounds like quite an undertaking, Mrs. Blake said, “There was no hesitation at all from any of the staff when we presented our idea. They jumped on board right away.”

As a result of this united effort, Metro students can expect August 21 to be a day filled with exciting activities and new opportunities for learning about all things solar eclipse. In the classroom, every subject will focus on one or more aspects of the natural phenomenon. For example, a math lesson might focus on the Saros Cycle and how eclipses can be predicted with geometry, while a science lesson may include a discussion about how plants and animals respond to an eclipse or how solar eclipses are made possible in the first place. Additionally, history students will have the opportunity to learn about eclipse-related mythology and may also delve in to how other cultures viewed eclipses. On the creative end of the spectrum, fine-arts instructors plan to engage students in a variety of activities such as making pinhole cameras for safe eclipse viewing; creating different forms of artwork centered on the sun, moon or Earth; or coming up with eclipse-themed narrations through drama or music. And this is just a glimpse into some of the subjects and topics that will be covered.

The eclipse celebration, however, won’t be limited to the classroom. Other highlights of the day include tasty “eclipse” snacks, a special student-created playlist of “sun” songs to entertain students as they watch the eclipse, as well as space-themed décor that will be present during “Welcome Back Week.”

To carry the sunny momentum forward, Blake says that Metro will extend the theme into the future.

“We will be promoting the character-building concept of ‘let your light shine’ throughout the entire school year, beginning with our chapel focus for the year based on Matthew 5:16: ‘Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father, which is in heaven.’”

A Fun Idea for All

The upcoming solar eclipse presents a wonderful opportunity for educational fun everyone in the family can partake in. Letting kids know how rare it is to see a solar eclipse is a great way to help boost enthusiasm for the special day.

“Solar eclipses occur regularly across the globe, about every 18 months or so,” Blake said. “However, a solar eclipse occurring over a specific area such as Oklahoma doesn’t occur very often because the Earth is such a big place. In fact, the last solar eclipse that happened within viewing distance of Oklahoma was in 1979, and the next one won’t occur again until the year 2045. So, it’s kind of a big deal!”

To further educate kids about the eclipse, Blake recommends taking a look at NASA’s website and the Great American Eclipse website. Or, to really dive into the topic, a visit to the Tulsa Air and Space Museum or the Jenks Planetarium will provide an even more hands-on learning experience as well as a good time. Also, for those who would enjoy seeing a total solar eclipse, Blake suggests taking a drive to Kansas City, where the sun will have 100 percent coverage.

Regardless of how you choose to celebrate, the most important thing is to make safety a priority.  Mrs. Blake cautions that “you should NEVER look directly at the sun, especially during an eclipse. Metro purchased special eclipse-viewing glasses for every student and staff member on our campus so that they can safely view the eclipse. The other option for viewing an eclipse is to use a pinhole camera or a special filter designed specifically for eclipse viewing.”

To Learn More…..

Those who would like to read more about eye safety during an eclipse or to learn how to make a simple pinhole camera or a box pinhole projector can visit the following helpful links:

Categories: Education