Education Eclipsed: Teacher turns event into teaching tool

Twenty students in science teacher Brandon Cromwell’s eighth-grade class got an opportunity to experience science first hand Monday as they watched a nearly-full eclipse.

It was an event that hasn’t happened since 1979, and won’t happen again until April 8, 2024, when Oklahoma will again be close to 90 percent totality. Dallas will be 100 percent, said Lindsay Thomas, director of communication for the Science Museum Oklahoma .

Cromwell, who has worked as a science teacher in the Yukon district for 19 years, said Monday was an opportunity to teach students about science.

His students learned how to make a pin-hole viewer, although a couple of students had purchased solar-viewing glasses that they shared with others.

But most of the students took advantage of five telescopes that reflected the images of the eclipse onto the concrete. The students were asked to trace the image onto a sheet of paper.

Cromwell said this was an experiment in solving problems.

“They could see the outline on the ground, and may have been able to even see sunspots,” he said.

Dozens of other middle school students also watched the historic event unfold.

Some parents joined their students to watch.

The students talked about how the sun and the moon are passing in front of the earth, but it is really the earth spinning, said Cromwell.

“This is really amazing,” said Chris Zapatka, 13. “It is by far one of the coolest things I have seen in a while.”

Zapatka was among those with the eclipse glasses. He lay on his back to watch the event, while Emma Wiedman joined those watching the images being reflected onto the concrete.

“It is completely cool that you can see the sun and the moon at the same time, during the complete day time,” she said.

Several teachers at Yukon opted to show the eclipse on video screens in their classrooms, but Cromwell said it was such a rare event, he wanted the students to experience it first-hand.

“They get to see what is a real world science phenomenon,” he said.

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