Solar eclipse memories

This is my sister and I – probably summer of 1985, just to give a frame of reference!

As we build up to Monday’s solar eclipse, I was thinking back to the only other solar eclipse that I recall seeing.  The date was May 30th, 1984. That May was the beginning of my last summer before I became a “school kid.”  I would be starting kindergarten that fall.  My mom ran an in-home daycare, which was great because that meant I had friends to play with every day.  She had been collecting shoe boxes for a few weeks leading up to the eclipse, and on the day before the eclipse we turned them into pinhole cameras. (One fun fact for all of you who are at RSI – Dave Bradley was one of the kids that was at the daycare on the day of the eclipse).

While I don’t remember exactly what the sky looked like that day, I remember that there was a lot of excitement about the event.  I also remember that there wasn’t a lot of talk about NASA approved sunglasses (maybe there was and I was too young to know about it).  That day my mom reminded all the kids not to look at the sun, we took out pinhole cameras outside, and we watched the eclipse.  I do remember that the big trees in our backyard were making it hard to see, so Dave and I moved to the backyard behind mine, and we had a much better view.

As many of you know, when I was still a classroom teacher, my favorite subject to teach was science, and my favorite unit was always space science.  I think that my experience with the solar eclipse set me up with curiosity about outer space.  As a kid I loved watching shuttle launches.  I remember crying when the Challenger disaster happened.  I had the chance to go to space camp during my first year as a teacher.  Even today, I can get sucked into a livestream of a SpaceX launch or landing and not be able to turn away.

I know that there are some who are concerned about safety for our students, but I would hope you seriously consider finding a way to give your students an opportunity to see the eclipse.  My experiences that day have helped lead to the things I am still curious about today, and for our kids it could be such a great provocation to lead into student wonder.  Who knows, a future space scientist, astronaut, or science teacher could be sitting in your classroom!  If you have something cool planned for the solar eclipse, share with us in the comments below!

3 thoughts on “Solar eclipse memories

  1. Mr. Behrman’s mom, here… Another special memory from that solar eclipse day in 1984 is sitting on the steps of our backyard deck, beneath a huge maple tree. As the maple leaves fluttered in the breeze during the eclipse, we began to notice little “moons” flittering around all over the deck and the deck steps, on our hands, and on our arms and legs. You see the tiny spaces between the maple leaves created thousands of those “pinholes.” This was truly a magical moment…one I will never forget!


  2. We are going to make a DIY solar eclipse in the classroom and I am hoping to find 13 pairs of eclipse glasses to see the real thing! Last week my students learned all about the solar eclipse through News2You. This is so exciting! I can remember the solar eclipse in 1993! (Third grade for me!)


  3. In addition all the fun Science activities, this week we will explore the eclipse through the lens of humanities. Our questions will focus on eclipses in history. Who first recorded the strange phenomenons in the sky? What were early beliefs? What is the origin of the term eclipse? What does it mean? Are there other connotations of the term? How are the ancient Greeks and people of ancient Mesopotamia involved in the discoveries related to eclipses? These are just a few of the questions that will guide our learning which support the essential question: How do events and beliefs of the past relate to and affect our world today? t


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