Are you ready for some dramatic science events in a neighborhood near you? This school year brings not one but two remarkable eclipses that will impact significant parts of the United States. First, mark your calendars for Saturday, October 14, 2023, when an annular eclipse will move across the western part of the United States. Then, on Monday, April 8, 2024, a total eclipse will grace the skies, treating almost everyone in the contiguous 48 states to a partial eclipse, with those in the path of totality experiencing the awe of a complete eclipse.
These cosmic occurrences provide a unique opportunity to ignite early passions in space science. And if you miss the upcoming total eclipse, be aware that the next one visible in the United States won’t occur until August 23, 2044.
How can we prepare for these cosmic events? This issue offers a wealth of ideas and resources, including books, websites, and apps, to delve into eclipses before, during, and after. Engage your students in citizen science projects, or simply marvel at how far we’ve come in understanding our celestial world. As Neil de Grasse Tyson aptly states, “Nothing comes close to the precision with which physics enables you to understand the world around you. It’s the laws of physics that allow us to say exactly what time the Sun is going to rise. What time the eclipse is going to begin and end.” Encourage your students to contemplate the precision behind predicting these events, nurturing their enthusiasm for math and science.
Such events often kindle a lifelong fascination with space science and physics; let’s take advantage of these remarkable teachable moments. While many schools will plan for school-wide events, some regrettably will not, leaving families and children to observe and wonder on their own. We provide insights on staying safe during an eclipse, what to expect, how to prepare, and how to tap into your students’ curiosity and sense of wonder.
In this issue, Melissa Stewart, author of numerous children’s books, emphasizes the need for nonfiction books in every classroom library. Read her editorial on boosting nonfiction exposure in your classroom and join the campaign.
Also, let’s warmly welcome Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, our new editor for The Poetry of Science column, succeeding our esteemed contributors and column founders, Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong. We express our heartfelt gratitude to Sylvia and Janet for their dedicated years of bringing poetry to our readers. Collaborating with both of you has been an absolute pleasure and honor.
A special note to our readers: This combined issue will be our last of 2023 as we transition to a new publishing platform with Routledge/Taylor & Francis, commencing in January 2024, when we will resume bimonthly publishing. This change will enable us to reach more educators, effect greater change in classrooms, and share the exceptional work of our authors with a broader audience. You can read more about the transition at www.nsta.org/blog/whats-new-nsta-journals-2023-and-2024.
As we look forward to the school year with the excitement of the upcoming eclipses, we remain your unwavering science teaching resource and will see you again in 2024.
Editor, Science and Children