April 14, 2017

NASA eclipse webinars available to area educators

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale, a prime viewing location and site of NASA’s global webcast of the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse, is inviting educators from around the region to participate in a NASA webinar series focusing on eclipse instruction.

During three webinars, scientists and specialists from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center will provide information about the planetary alignment phenomenon, the first total solar eclipse to occur since 1979 over the United States. SIU is the closest university to the point of greatest duration of the eclipse, which will occur a few miles south of the campus and last for 2 minutes and 38 seconds. 

The first webinar, a live, hour-long interactive program from 4 to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, April 19, will offer eclipse details and an overview of the two additional webinars. Both of those interactive webinars will highlight age-appropriate, hands-on eclipse activities educators can use with children. The sessions will also include a demonstration of the safe use of solar viewing glasses.

The webinar set for 4-5 p.m. on April 25 is designed for educators who work with children in grades K-6. They will learn to make an eclipse cereal box viewer, a device for safely indirectly viewing the eclipse, and discuss additional activities.

A webinar on April 27 from 4 to 5 p.m. is geared toward educators of children in grades 7-12. Participants will discover how to create 3-D models of the earth, moon and sun to use in simulating an eclipse, as well as other learning activities.  

“We are extremely grateful for Erin McKinley, Elaine Lewis and Susan Kohler, our NASA partners, and their commitment and service to the Southern Illinois community,” Harvey Henson, interim director of SIU’s STEM Education Research Center, said. “These NASA-sponsored webinars and workshops provide important educator professional development opportunities and help to fulfill the mission of the STEM Education Research Center.”

Webinar participants can log in individually to participate in these unique learning opportunities. However, organizers encourage schools, museums, libraries, amateur astronomers and other organizations to gather in viewing groups to share the learning experience.

To access webinar viewing information or set up a viewing group at your location, contact Henson at henson@siu.edu.  

SIU is partnering with NASA Eclipse 2017, the Adler Planetarium of Chicago, the Louisiana Space Consortium, the Science Center of Southern Illinois and other groups to present Eclipse Day at Saluki Stadium, an event featuring discussions, special activities and much more. The next total solar eclipse will occur April 8, 2024, and the centerlines of totality for both eclipses intersect over Carbondale’s Cedar Lake.