Eclipse Activities from the National Informal STEM Education Network

For the first time in almost 40 years, all of North America will be treated to an eclipse of the sun on August 21, 2017. Anyone within the path of totality will be able to see one of nature’s most awe inspiring sights – a total solar eclipse. In preparation for this monumental event, NASA partnered with the NISE Network to create the Explore Science: Earth and Space Toolkit.  Within it are three activities (Big Sun, Small Moon; Bear’s Shadow; and Solar Eclipse) directly related to the solar eclipse.

The Big Sun, Small Moon activity is a hands-on activity that explores the concept of apparent size and allows visitors to experience this phenomena using familiar objects—a tennis ball and a beach ball. Participants learn that the Sun and Moon appear the same size in our sky because although the Sun is much bigger than the Moon, it is also much farther away.

The “Bear’s Shadow” is a hands-on activity were participants move a flashlight around an object to make and experiment with shadows. The activity can be connected to a storybook about a little bear exploring his own shadow, and also has connections to the geometry of a solar eclipse as the Moon and Sun cast a shadow onto Earth.

The Solar Eclipse activity is a hands-on activity demonstrating how the particular alignment of the Sun, Earth, and Moon can cause an eclipse. Participants can investigate the positions of these objects to create shadows and learn about the total solar eclipse that will traverse the continental United States in August, 2017.

For more information about the NISE Network and for more resources about the Solar Eclipse:

NISE Network planning resources

Dr. Barbie Buckner
Educator Professional Development Specialist, NASA STEM EPDC
NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center