Sporting NASA’s orange, blue, yellow and green eclipse glasses, more than 2,000 students at Canyon High School spent their Monday morning watching the eclipse move across Southern California.
“I like these glasses,” 10th grade student Luciano Castro said. “It was pretty cool when you put on your glasses and could see the crescent shape sun.”
For the first time in almost 40 years, the total solar eclipse moved across the continental United States Monday. The event inspired thousands to travel to states within the path of totality and encouraged hundreds to purchase eclipse glasses and solar filters in the Santa Clarita Valley.
In the William S. Hart Union High School District, all 26,000 students, teachers and staff were provided with free eclipse glasses, thanks to a coordinated effort between district staff, Science Teacher on Special Assignment Julie Huffman and Director of Curriculum and Assessment David LeBarron.
“The association with NASA allowed us to get a donation of approximately 19,000 glasses, but we wanted 26,000,” said Dave Caldwell, public relations officer from the Hart District. “We got a donation from the WiSH Education Foundation that allowed us to buy the rest of them.”
The district spent more than four months preparing for the event before distributing eclipse glasses to students and staff Monday morning.
At Canyon High School, administrators decided to schedule an evacuation drill at 10:02 a.m. so all students would be outside when the eclipse was at its pinnacle viewing point.
“It’s a unique opportunity… We wanted to have the opportunity for our students to experience it in a safe, controlled environment,” said Assistant Principal Robert Fisher who chose to hold the evacuation drill during the eclipse’s peak point. “Providing as many learning opportunities for our students is something we always strive for and look forward to doing as educators.”
Before students stepped outside Monday morning, they spent time in their science classes learning about lunar and solar eclipses and the different phases of the moon.
“We learned about totality and how totality works with the umbra and the penumbra,” 10th grade student Justin Shakoori said. “It was a really memorable and really enjoyable experience.”
The sentiment was the same among students young and old, who appreciated having an understanding of the cosmic event before it happened.
“I personally love the science behind astronomy,” 12th grade student William Diaz said. “It’s always cool to hear interesting facts about astronomy, the way the sun works, the way that everything in our galaxy falls together in perfect places.”
Students also studied how plants and animals would react to the two minutes of complete darkness in the path of totality.
“They [animals] would think it’s night so crickets would start chirping and even the plants, like flowers, would close in,” 12th grade student Kyle Fridlund said.
Students in all of the Hart District schools also watched four televised videos during their morning shows or during their morning announcements from Wednesday to Monday leading up to the event.
The videos featured all 12 Hart District teachers selected for NASA’s Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors program called SOFIA and detailed the history of the eclipse, the science behind the event and the importance of safety while watching the eclipse.
“We had the SOFIA teachers to talk about the science and the use of the glasses,” Caldwell said. “We distributed the videos to show not only the science behind the eclipse, but, most importantly, the emphasis of safe viewing and to mandate the use of those glasses.”
All of the lessons and videos were enough to make both students and teachers excited for the rare astronomical event.
“My heart’s pumping,” said science teacher and SOFIA participant Lydia Jimenez. “It’s a once in a lifetime experience. I’m excited to experience this with my students.”
As students exited their classrooms, put on their glasses and looked upwards, they could be heard sharing reactions of astonishment and could be seen pointing toward the partially-eclipsed sun.
“I had never seen an eclipse,” Fridlund said. “I’ve seen a blood moon before but never an eclipse.”
Many left the morning drill and eclipse viewing party with their glasses in hand, ready to view the next big solar event in 2024.
“I’ll remember the excitement leading up to the event,” 12th grade student Tony Eskandar said. “It’s motivation to go to another one and explore more of the unexplainable events that happen on our planet.”
Additional School Eclipse Events
Schools and colleges throughout the Santa Clarita Valley also spent their Monday mornings celebrating the eclipse and teaching their students about the science behind the phenomena.
In the Castaic Union School District, district office staff watched the eclipse through pinhole projectors made out of Wheaties boxes. Students at the district’s schools also viewed the reflection of the eclipse using index cards, foil and cereal-box viewers, or with special viewing glasses from NASA.
The Sulphur Springs Union School District allowed students at all nine of its school sites to watch the eclipse through pinhole projectors, cereal-box viewers and eclipse glasses, with the help of administrators, teachers and the parent community.
The Saugus Union School District said schools throughout the district explored science with activities, lessons and glasses.
“Emblem Academy, following a week of eclipse related activities, had a school-wide viewing event this morning…with all of the students and staff being provided eclipse glasses and a thorough lesson on how to use them,” the district said on its Facebook page.
Students sat and stood in silence as they periodically shared their excitement with expressions of “wow” and “cool.”
Institutes of higher education, including California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) and College of the Canyons (COC), spent their mornings looking up at the wonder as well.
At CalArts, students and staff gathered in front of the school’s campus with homemade pinhole projectors and eclipse glasses to watch the event pass by.
On their first day of classes, COC students, faculty and staff had a chance to view the eclipse through solar scopes or watch the eclipse on sun spotters in the courtyard between Boykin Hall and Aliso Lab, according to the school’s Facebook page.
Missed the eclipse? Visit the NASA website at www.nasa.gov to view photos and videos from the event.
On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_