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The Final Push to Be Ready for the April 8 Solar Eclipse: Ways to Be a Resource to Your Community

By Dennis Schatz, Andrew Fraknoi, and Flavio Mendez

Posted on 2024-02-26


The last total solar eclipse visible in the continental United States for a generation will occur in less than two months. Almost 500 million people in North America will see some kind of eclipse (weather permitting).

As a science teacher, you can be an important resource to get your school district and community ready for this spectacular celestial event. Right now, you still have time to inform people about the science of eclipses and safe ways to view them. By the time the eclipse becomes a big story in the media, it may be too late to properly prepare people for it. 

solar eclipse

2017 Total Eclipse (photo by Cary Sneider)

We have written and collected many resources for you on the NSTA Solar Eclipse web page: We included a brief eclipse guide you can give to your school administrators. Probably the best place to start is with the NSTA Solar Eclipse Guide for Educators. Read the sections that start on page 16 for specific outreach ideas.
With support from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, NSTA has identified more than 300 educators (called Solar Eclipse Partners) who are working with organizations in their communities to prepare for the eclipse. These organizations include libraries, farmers’ markets, community festivals, Girl Scout troops, and others. Many of them provided programs leading up to the annular eclipse in October. Below are some examples that worked for these educators. You may be inspired to make a connection in your own community based on what they did.

More ideas of this type were offered during free NSTA Web Seminars about the eclipses that we have been leading. See the most recent web seminar (from February 8, 2024) at

Christian Clark in Oxford, Mississippi, organized an observing session at the Lafayette County and Oxford Public Library for community members. Participants not only viewed the annular eclipse, but also recorded other phenomena associated with the eclipse, including observing sunspots on the Sun and measuring the changing light level throughout the eclipse period.

people observing eclipse


signs related to solar eclipse


Tanya Gordon from Boise, Idaho, worked with her Girl Scout troop to prepare for and observe the annular eclipse and while simultaneously working to complete their Space Science Investigator Badge.

people observing solar eclipse with glasses on


Girl Scout preparing for eclipse observation


Tita Anderson Lovell in Duluth, Georgia, prepared a tented activity space to use at libraries and at local festivals held before the annular eclipse. It included solar observing, safe viewing techniques, and solar art experiences. He also provided information to help participants successfully view the Sun on eclipse day.

tented activity space


eclipse activity in tented space


Chris Brown from Columbus Grove, Ohio, had his students lead activities at the local library that included an eclipse BINGO game and safe viewing information. They also had an activity station and discussion at the local Chamber of Commerce meeting. They wanted to make sure the community appreciated the large number of people who would be traveling in April to and through Columbus Grove, which has limited grocery stores, restaurants, and other amenities.

eclipse activity at library


eclipse activity at library


These examples are just a sample of what science teachers are doing—not only to prepare their own students for the solar eclipse, but also to help prepare the entire community for a celestial experience that most people will not see again until 2045.

If you have not yet started your eclipse planning, it’s not too late. The NSTA eclipse page and our collection of eclipse resources to which it links can provide information and guidance. We hope you will consider doing something for your community. And we wish you clear skies and a great view of the solar eclipse.

Dennis Schatz is a senior fellow at the Institute for Learning Innovation and an NSTA Past President, and has authored 26 science books for children.

Andrew Fraknoi teaches astronomy at the Fromm Institute of the University of San Francisco, and is the lead author of OpenStax Astronomy, a free online, introductory textbook.

Both are leaders in the Solar Eclipse Task Force of the American Astronomical Society and in the Solar Activities for Libraries project, which distributed more than five million safe-viewing glasses (and information) for the upcoming eclipse through 13,000 public libraries, funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. They co-authored the NSTA Press books Solar Science (for teachers) and When the Sun Goes Dark (for children), key resources for educators during solar eclipses.

Flavio Mendez is NSTA’s Senior Director for University Partnerships and eLearning and manages NSTA’s School and District Partners Program. Previously, he worked on NASA's Hubble Space Telescope project as education coordinator.

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