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The Solar Eclipse: What to Know for Kids

On Monday, August 21, 2017,  a total solar eclipse will pass over the United States. Unfortunately, from California, we will only be able to witness a partial eclipse, but the sight will still be incredible to witness and an opportunity for your kids to learn more about science!

What’s a Solar Eclipse?

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon’s orbit around Earth brings it directly between us and the sun. The moon blocks the sun’s light and casts a shadow on Earth, creating the eclipse. There are three types of solar eclipses: total, partial, and annular.

Total EclipsesSolar Eclipse Graphic

Total eclipses occur when the moon completely blocks out the sun. It can only be seen by those directly in the center of the moon’s shadow.

Partial Eclipses

Partial eclipses occur when the moon blocks only part of the sun. Because California will not be in the center of the moon’s shadow on August 21, we will only see a partial eclipse.

Annular Eclipses

If the moon blocks the sun directly while its orbit is at its farthest from Earth, an annular eclipse occurs. Because the moon is farther away, it appears smaller, not blocking out all of the sun’s rays, leaving a ring of sunlight creeping through around the moon during the eclipse.

Why It’s Important

While most of us in California won’t see the total solar eclipse shown in the video above, learning about the event, and possibly viewing the partial eclipse, can still be a huge benefit to your child’s view of science. It’s an opportunity for them to learn about a scientific experience as it occurs, compared to learning about eclipses that have already happened or are yet to. The event can spark an interest in science and space, and gives you a chance to teach your child more about our solar system and other amazing scientific phenomena.

Where to View and How to View Safely

Unless you’re up for a road trip to reach a location where the total eclipse will be in sight, the partial eclipse will be visible locally (weather permitting) from about 9:06 am to 11:45 am PST. In Anaheim, the eclipse will peak at 10:21 am with 61.4% of the sun covered by the moon. Viewers will want to find an area not too obstructed by buildings, where they’ll have a clear view of the sky. Since the event will occur during work and school hours, it may be impossible for your child and yourself to view, but you can encourage your child’s teacher to talk about the event and you can also discuss it later at home.

For those who will be able to view the eclipse, it must be viewed with the utmost safety! Since only part of the sun will be eclipsed, it will be unsafe to view without eclipse glasses or by pinhole projection. Follow these instructions to make a pinhole projector for the event.

Activities for Kids

Whether or not your family is able to witness the partial eclipse, you can still use the occasion to teach your child more about science and space. Follow our STEM Exploration board on Pinterest for solar eclipse activities and facts that will help your child understand the phenomenon and the science behind it.

Sources: AugustEclipse.comCBS News, ForbesNASA, Space.com, Time, and Vox

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Shelby Wagner - 1st Grade Teacher Fairmont Historic AnaheimTop Teacher & Skating Champion
Shelby “My favorite part of being a teacher is the children I get to teach.”
  • Is one of the head teachers for the Fountain Valley Artistic Skating Club, teaching regional and national champions. She also teaches beginner classes every Saturday morning.
  • Every year, her students are amazed to find that their teacher has a life outside of the classroom.
“I love feeling like I’m part of a family [at Fairmont].”
Keira Kamath - 5th Grade Fairmont Anaheim HillsScience & Tennis Superstar
keira “I like how there are so many different specialty classes at Fairmont Anaheim Hills, like art, music, PE, science lab, computer lab, and Spanish.”
  • She would like to be a professional tennis player when she grows up, or maybe a doctor.
  • Loves dance and plays the piano
  • Her favorite class is science “because you get to figure out stuff, and I like to do experiments.”
Nicholas Aghaian - 7th Grade Fairmont Historic AnaheimKicking His Way to Med School
nicolas“The teachers and the amount of support they provide to not only me, but to the whole entire community here at Fairmont is probably what I like most about attending Fairmont Historic Anaheim.”
  • He would like to be a professional soccer player, or a doctor specializing in the field of sports medicine.
  • Enjoys basketball, piano, and soccer pitch.
  • His favorite subject is math “because I like to be challenged, and math is full of challenges.”
Gianluca De Gregoris – 2nd Grade Fairmont North TustinDancing Toward Greatness
dancing"What I like most about Fairmont is that I get to learn and meet new friends.”
  • He wants to be a professional dancer when he grows up.
  • Is trained in ballet and ballroom dancing.
  • Loves writing and creating new stories.
Nicole Heyman - Kindergarten Teacher Fairmont Anaheim HillsLaying a Foundation for Lifelong Learning
Nicole "The best part about teaching at Fairmont is being able to work with a diverse group of students who are all incredibly talented. It is amazing to be able to challenge students at such a young age and watch these children grow throughout the year.”
  • Loves camping, reading, and traveling
  • Her students love learning random things about her – like the fact that when she was in kindergarten she wanted to be Spiderman when she grew up.
  • Her proudest moments are the times when a student on campus is excited to see her, oftentimes telling her that she’s “the best teacher in the world.” “I live for those moments.”
“I choose to teach at Fairmont because of the sense of community, as well as the drive for our students to succeed.”
DJ Clovis - Music Teacher Fairmont North TustinRunning to the Rhythm
DJ Clovis “I get to work with amazing staff, faculty, parents, and most importantly, students!”
  • Teaches music to all grades — from pre-kindergarten through 8th grade
  • Coaches (or has coached) football, basketball, and Run Club
  • Plays bass trombone
  • NJHS Conflict Resolution Coach
  • He has run 15 marathons and 4 ultra marathons.
“The best part of teaching at Fairmont is the autonomy — being able to create a program that fits all of my students. At Fairmont North Tustin, I get to help with a lot of different activities.”