EDUCATIONAL LESSONS and ACTIVITIES
Use these resources to explore the science, math, and literature associated with the eclipse and general astronomy
Use a paper plate and coin to investigate how a much smaller moon can eclipse the large sun. (Lawrence Hall of Science, DIY sun Science)
Build a shoebox solar eclipse simulator. Explore distance and proportions between the Earth, moon, and sun and investigate angular size and paths of totality. Good math connections. (NASA CONNECT, Path of Totality)
Investigate how Einstein needed a total eclipse in order to demonstrate how the sun's mass bends the light from a far away star. Good history connection and use of source documents – newspaper article from 1919. (NASA GSFC)
Math activity comparing track of a solar eclipse in Babylonian times to calculate the rate at which the day is lengthening over time. (NASA SpaceMath problem #7, see page 24 of PDF document).
Construct a model to demonstrate the moon’s orbit around the sun. Learners will also compare the strengths of the gravitational forces exerted on the moon by the sun and by the Earth.
Build a pin-hole camera out of a shoe box to calculate the size of the sun (NASA’s Eye on the sun, p 21)
Construct a pinhole projector to project an image of the sun, observe and record the size of the projected image, and calculate the diameter of the sun using the measurements and a known distance to the sun. (Touch the sun, Chabot Space Science Center, pg 64)
Language Arts, History, and Social Studies
Our Star the Sun
Part of a larger unit on the sun, this site includes lots of activities about the sun with Language Arts and Math connections. Learners can construct a model of the sun, Earth, and moon motions, observe and manipulate the 3-D models, and simulate the movement of these bodies during an eclipse. Activities culminate with a book of all the student work – including wonderful art projects – great for portfolios. (University of California, Berkeley – Project FIRST)
Native American Folklore
Explore folklore about the sky from native America as language arts and history connections. Those specific to the sun include Raven and the sun, Three-legged Rabbit, Coyote and Eagle Steal the sun and moon, Boy and the sun, sun and Her Daughter, Spider and the sun, Little Brother Snares the sun, One Who Walks all Over the Sky, Fifth World.
Cultural Myths about the Sun and Moon
Many cultures around the world have interesting myths about the sun and the moon, reflecting their importance to daily life. Discover some of the interesting beliefs of early civilizations. Compare and find similarities between different myths and cultures.
Medicine Wheel Solar Calendar and other explorations in Archaeoastronomy
This collection from the Chabot Space Center offers great activities for the whole family- such as making an ancient calendar with sidewalk chalk. This resource introduces the basics of Earth and Sun motion and provides great connections to math, and Native American history (pages 15-30). Continue the activities throughout the year and track the equinox in September and March and the solstice in December. Additional activities include an Indoor Solar Calendar (pages 31-44) and Birthday Beam (pages 45-56). Both are great family activities for building a family birthday calendar.