Tomorrow, Monday, August 21st, a rare event will occur where the moon will pass between the Earth and Sun, creating a solar eclipse! What’s even better? Our council, NE Kansas and NW Missouri, has a few places where we’re in the path of totality, so we get some of the best views in the country! We want to give Girl Scouts some fun to learn how the solar system works and use STEM skills to learn about a real time natural event.
Note of caution: Looking directly at the Sun, at any time, is extremely dangerous for your eyes and the effects aren’t immediate, they often take a few hours for you to realize there’s been damage. Here’s a great video to help you know what’s safe and what’s not. The safest way to view the eclipse would be on TV. If you are opting for an in-person viewing, make sure you have eclipse viewing glasses (here’s an approved list of vendors with safe glasses from the American Astronomical Society). Also, don’t wear glasses, and use unfiltered binoculars, because according to the AAS, without filters on the binoculars themselves, your glasses can melt since the rays are more concentrated. You can also read some great safety tips for viewing on NASA’s eclipse website.
…Now that we’re all safe, let’s look at some fun STEM activities to do during the eclipse mania!
- What is a solar eclipse? Learning ahead of the eclipse
Take this opportunity to help Girl Scouts learn about the solar system and what exactly a solar eclipse is! We found some great, short videos for Girl Scouts to check out to learn about this eclipse and why it’s so special:
- Diagram/Basic Understanding: NASA video – “Visualizing the 2017 Eclipse” (length – 1:19)
- Importance of this Eclipse: Vox video – “Why a Total Solar Eclipse is Such a Big Deal” (length – 5:23)
- Perception of Eclipses Through History: Time – “Solar Eclipses Throughout History: Warning Sign to Many Ancient Cultures” (length – 3:17)
- Decorate your solar glasses
Many glasses already have some solar decoration on them, but Girl Scouts can be very creative! If your Girl Scouts have glasses, they can decorate them after the eclipse with what they saw! It’s a great way to keep a memory of the event.
- Make a Pin-Hole Camera
Can’t find solar eclipse glasses? Make your own pin hole camera in just a few minutes that will keep your eyes safe during the viewing. It’s a great activity for Girl Scouts who like hands-on activities.
- Visit St. Joseph, MO!
Visit Girl Scout sisters (or if you live in St. Joe, invite Girl Scout sisters from other cities) to come view the eclipse! Since St. Joseph, MO is in the path of totality, it’s one of the few places in the world you can get the best view of the eclipse.
- Solar Eclipse Paper Plate Activity (for Daisy & Brownie Girl Scouts)
Let younger Girl Scouts decorate their own solar eclipse. This activity will help girls understand how the moon is blocking the light of the sun in a fun art project!
- Become a Junior Ranger Eclipse Explorer!
Bill Nye’s Planetary Society and the National Park Service have teamed up to create some great resources for kids all about the solar eclipse! You can either call a national park if you have one nearby to see if they have any booklets, or print your own book! It’s packed with activities and information! There’s also a 4 part video series featuring Bill Nye about the event.
These are just a few suggestions on ways to learn about STEM and get excited about the Great American Solar Eclipse! What did your troop do to celebrate? Post photos and comments below!