Thursday, July 20, 2017

Left Behind: Sunball Selfies

Many science instructors will be making the pilgrimage to totality for the August 21 solar eclipse. This will leave science students without their instructors during the event.

In a previous post, we offered a lesson plan to fill one day of a science teacher's absence. That was a question set to accompany showing The Universe: Total Eclipse.

What can students do on Monday, August 21 at the time of the eclipse (peaking at 10:17am in Sacramento)? It's a school day and students will likely be in class during most of the eclipse.

Perhaps your school has stocked up on eclipse viewers/glasses and will distribute them for students Monday morning. Then again, maybe not. It's important to convey the danger of looking at the sun during an eclipse.

Conceptual Physics author, Paul Hewitt, reminds us that one of the best ways to enjoy an eclipse is to look down! The dappled light seen beneath trees is composed of pinhole images of the sun: "sunballs". When the eclipse is on, these sunballs turn into "suncrescents," pinhole images of the eclipsed sun. It is quite a spectacle. Some might even call it "amazeballs".

Here's an extra credit project that I will be assigning to my students for the eclipse:

Sunball Selfies (pdf) - Sunball Selfies (docx)

You will need to modify the document to use it at your school. And you don't need to be absent to use it. I used a similar assignment for the May, 2012 annular eclipse and students had great fun with it.

Sunball Selfies student album from May, 2012
2012 05 20 Eclipse Students

My own Sunball Selfies album from May, 2012
2012 05 20 Eclipse DB

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