June 22, 2017 – As the United States prepares for the first total solar eclipse to race across the entire continental United States in 99 years, on August 21, 2017, Astronomers Without Borders (AWB) is launching a major new nationwide initiative that will have a significant, long‐lasting impact on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education. This educational campaign, sponsored by Google, is open to all across the US, with a special emphasis on underserved communities who may not otherwise have the opportunity of leveraging the rare natural laboratory of a solar eclipse to learn about the importance of the sun and its light.
AWB’s unique “Building on the Eclipse” Education Program uses the high-profile eclipse event as inspiration and the starting point for continuing STEM education lessons and activities to be conducted in the following academic year.
The 2017 solar eclipse provides a first in a lifetime opportunity for many Americans to experience an amazing celestial event, just by looking up! Once they look up, we don’t want them to stop,” said Lindsay Bartolone, Education Director at AWB and for the Building on Eclipse Education Program. “The Astronomers Without Borders Building on the Eclipse Education Program offers educators from diverse settings resources and professional support to build on kids’ excitement and continue learning about and being amazed by the Sun.”
This innovative program is open to all formal and informal educational groups including schools, libraries, museums, nature centers, after-school groups and scouts. Schools and youth groups in inner cities, on Native American reservations or military installations, at children’s hospitals, and those in isolated rural communities with limited resources are encouraged to apply. The program also seeks professional and amateur astronomers to support participating groups in their astronomy and general science activities.
“The eclipse is an amazing natural phenomenon that serves as the inspiration for study of the sciences. We hope isolated and traditionally underserved communities in particular will take advantage of the program, bringing STEM into classrooms that might have limited resources” said Mike Simmons, President and founder of AWB.
The program offers an exciting educational resource package that uses eclipse viewing glasses and spectroscope kits in lesson plans developed by our team of professional science educators in cooperation with Astronomical Society of the Pacific, and Science Technology Advanced Resource, Inc. An online support community and professional development sessions are also offered. The solar eclipse, and solar science in general, will form the platform for exploring a wide variety of investigations into renewable energy, climate, weather and life on Earth.
Online registration for the program is now open at awbeclipse2017.org, and a limited number of spectroscope kits are available free to eligible groups registering early thanks to a generous donation from Rainbow Symphony.
As the final countdown begins to this great American eclipse event, now is the time for formal and outreach educators across the country to take advantage of this special celestial moment as a jumping off point to inspire children of all ages about the importance and wonders of STEM. Let’s keep the excitement going once the August 21st eclipse has come and gone and extend the educational opportunity!
In an additional program, AWB will support all groups in underserved communities to observe the eclipse across the United States regardless of their participation in the Building on the Eclipse Educational Program. To apply for eclipse glasses, made possible by the generous donations of glasses by Google, Big Kid Science, and the American Astronomical Society, visit the AWB Glasses Giveaway page.
AWB also sells safe solar eclipse glasses to the general public. The proceeds from all sales help fund AWB’s international grassroots science outreach programs.