• Juli Wiseman, with daughter Kendall (in ball cap and glasses), takes in the wonder of the eclipse at the Grand Rapids Public Museum
  • City High School students Andrew DeBoer and Thea Bultman keep their eyes on the sky
  • Lauryn Brachman, left, Lilia Miller and Morgan Brachman, who attend Grandville Public Schools, view the projected crescent sun on a piece of cardboard that showed the eclipse through binoculars
  • Jana Schroeder of North Rockford Middle School checks out a fancy eclipse viewer
  • Braden Nicholson and Nicholas McFall of Kent City Public Schools were intense about learning how to make an eclipse craft
  • Wealthy Elementary students Zachary and Sophia Wurl create Play-Doh planets at the Grand Rapids Public Museum Eclipse Party

A Lesson of Wonder in the Sky

Students, Parents Marvel at Rare Solar Eclipse

by Erin Albanese, photos by Linda Odette  

With eclipse glasses on, Kimberly Hudson and her children, Kiara Webley and Jonathan Hudson, waited in anticipation on the Grand Rapids Public Museum lawn as the moon crept across the sun.

"It's exciting because maybe we will learn about it more in social studies and science," said Kiara, a sixth-grader at Westwood Middle School, in Grand Rapids Public Schools, during Monday's Eclipse Party.

Her mother, with kindergartner Jonathan on her lap, said viewing the eclipse was a rare event she wanted to share with her children. "They aren't just reading about it in a book. It's remarkable," she marveled. "They will remember it for a long time.

"It's like an outside classroom today."

Related Story: Solar Eclipse Mania: ‘It’s Officially Happening!’

C.A. Frost Environmental Science Academy kindergartner Jonathan Hudson is in a zone while watching the eclipseHundreds of families, many at the tail-end of summer break, donned viewing glasses and sprawled on the grass to watch the solar eclipse reach its peak of 82 percent totality, as was visible in Michigan. They were among the millions nationwide beholding the rare total eclipse as it traversed the country, providing marvelous memories and a wonderful opportunity for learning about the cosmos.

"Ooh, there's a lot of it covered right now!" said Hannah Rethman, an eighth-grader at Crossroads Middle School in Northview. The museum hosted shows in the planetarium, a live stream of the total eclipse in the Meijer Theatre, and eclipse-related activities like making cardboard projectors.

But the moon and sun were the day's headliners, and the perfect subjects to end summer, said City High School juniors Andrew DeBoer, Thea Bultman and Dean Moallemian.

"Usually you get a little depressed because school is starting," Dean said, noting he will soon be back to hitting the books. "To have an eclipse like this is a really great summer event."

Cool Classroom Connections

It was actually the perfect segue back to the classroom, said Kent ISD science consultant Wendi Vogel. When it comes to real-world, or "out-of-this world" science, a solar eclipse covers it in totality. The state's new Next Generation Science Standards encourage students to think deeply about the natural world.

Rochelle and Adra McConer, who plan to attend C.A. Frost Environmental Science Academy, came with their grandma, Lisa McConer "One of the things we are asking students to do in the new standards is to make observations about phenomena that they may or may not be able to explain in their own understanding," Vogel said.

Teachers could go deeper with units including information on former eclipses and orbital and rotational data. "This is a really nice phenomenon," Vogel said.

Kate Moore, GRPM vice president of marketing and communications, said the museum works to connect students with career pathways, and the Eclipse Party offered another opportunity for that.

"This is such a great learning experience," Moore said. "We showcase science. We hope this will inspire kids to know what they what they want to do with their lives. It could be life-changing."

For Grandville Public Schools' Grandview Elementary fifth-graders Lilia Miller and Lauryn Brachman, third-grader Morgan Brachman and kindergartner Bennett Brachman, along with their mothers, Amy Miller and Erin Brachman, the eclipse was a chance to make cardboard projectors following YouTube instructions.

"Having the party shows them that science is fun," said Erin.

"Science is fun!" echoed Lauryn.


I'll Follow the Sun: Solar Eclipse Path Across the U.S.

Harry Blakley, who attends Breton Downs in East Grand Rapids, takes a relaxing eclipse-watching pose

Submitted on: August 22nd 2017

Spread the word!