Western Center Academy students experience the solar eclipse

Senior Tanner Packham of Western Center Academy projects an image of the solar eclipse from his telescope onto a sheet of paper, Aug. 21
Senior Tanner Packham of Western Center Academy projects an image of the solar eclipse from his telescope onto a sheet of paper, Aug. 21

HEMET – Western Center Academy staff loves to make any event an opportunity for students to gain a better understanding of how things work while creating fun and engaging activities. Why should the solar eclipse be any different? Here in Hemet, the students only saw a partial eclipse, but that didn’t stop staff from creating a day for students to further their knowledge about solar eclipses.

Leading up to the solar eclipse, students spent a lot of time going over safety protocols and how to safely view the eclipse. Students used NASA-approved glasses, purchased by the school to track the path of the sun during the three-hour event. Before the eclipse, students were able to go onto an online forum and submit questions they had about the solar eclipse. They learned about the difference between a lunar and solar eclipse. They learned about different myths and legends from cultures throughout history and how they explained an eclipse. They learned what causes an eclipse. The majority of the day was spent deepening students’ knowledge about eclipses and informing them of on a variety of ways to view it.

Some students decided to crank things up a notch and think outside of the box to gain valuable data during the eclipse. Tanner Packham, a senior, used a telescope and placed a piece of paper a couple of feet away from the eyepiece, so the image could be projected onto the paper for safe viewing. In addition to the telescope, he used an Arduino Uno to measure the voltage output, which measures the amount of solar energy throughout the eclipse.

“We hope this was memorable for our students,” Assistant Principal Michael Horton said. “There will not be a total eclipse visible in Southern California for the rest of our lives. Even though we only had about 60 percent coverage, scientifically, this was a special day for us.”

A camera displays the solar eclipse for students at Western Center Academy, Aug. 21.
A camera displays the solar eclipse for students at Western Center Academy, Aug. 21.

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