The Eclipse Adds to Back to School Excitement at Highland Park

  • a class of students viewing the eclipse with certified eclipse glasses

The excitement of the first day of school on was increased due to the fact that Salt Lake City was going to have a natural phenomenon occur during recess – the Great Solar Eclipse of 2017.

Debora Cluff, Highland Park's Principal, wanted to turn this occasion into an educational experience, so she purchased eclipse viewers for the entire student body. “I wanted to make sure that all my students had the opportunity to view the eclipse in a safe way. Teachers were able to instruct the students prior to the start of the eclipse. Classes went outside and had great discussions while viewing the eclipse. We even had a lot of parents come to volunteer at school to help with the younger ones, making sure that they were not looking directly at the sun without using the viewers. “

One student exclaimed while making an observation, “I can’t tell which is the sun or which is the moon because the sun looks like the shape the moon usually looks like.”

Another student joined in on the conversation stating he found it interesting that it “didn’t get as dark as I thought it would.”

There were a lot of “this is way cool” and “I didn’t realize that it would look like that” comments too. Students from older grades even chimed in by talking about the differences between lunar and solar eclipses.

Sixth-grade teacher Mary Taylor said the orbit of the moon is part of the sixth-grade science curriculum, “To be able to experience such a vivid representation of motion in the solar system was priceless. The students are then able to take this experience and relate it to what is taught in the classroom." 

“We teach phenomena in science. Having a solar eclipse is a phenomenon that we don’t see everyday. For some people it will be once in a lifetime opportunity they will see and remember,” said Paula Marquez, fifth-grade teacher. “This is a great way to begin a year and to start off our science core with such an intriguing experience.”

Author: Staci Rodriguez, Highland Park Elementary

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