Everyone at both Dallas International School campuses could tell something was different when they walked outside: it was much cooler than a normal August afternoon in Texas, and the shadows and lighting looked unfamiliar. These were the first signs of the much-anticipated solar eclipse on the first day of school, August 21.
“Solar eclipses occur when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun so that it blocks part or all of the sunlight when viewed from certain places on Earth,” said Wendie Meymarian, Curriculum Development and Instructional Coordinator at DIS, who helped organize the viewing and teach students about its significance. “And Earth is the only planet in the solar system where eclipses can happen this way because of the moon’s size and its distance from the sun.”
“Even though we were not in the path of totality, it was still an incredible sight with 75% coverage,” Meymarian said. “We noticed that even the temperature dropped several degrees, making the viewing time more pleasant, as it was distinctly cooler outside.”
All DIS students from first through twelfth grade went outside at 12:45 p.m. and, after donning the proper safety glasses, had the opportunity to directly observe the eclipse. Students already had lessons from their teachers on the rare nature of the event. They also drew the different stages of the eclipse on a worksheet as they observed them.
“Students and adults alike were in complete awe of the experience,” Meymarian said. “There were over 250 students and adults on the soccer field at the lower campus and everyone was completely engaged. Aside from having many questions, students wanted to know more about how solar eclipses occur.”
Fourth graders Neel and Tristan couldn’t contain their excitement when talking about the eclipse.
“I thought it was very scientific,” Neel said. “It’s rare for the moon to be between the sun and Earth. I also wondered how they know when the next solar eclipse will come.”
“It was cool,” Tristan agreed. “I only saw a lunar eclipse before, not a solar, and it was much darker.”
Meymarian emphasized how the eclipse was a great opportunity for teachers to use a natural event as what she calls a “teachable moment.”
“At DIS, our teachers try to seize any teachable moment and use it for the benefit of our students,” Meymarian said. “These events allow us to teach outside of the four walls of our classroom, integrating real-life experiences into our daily lessons.”
“Some scientific ideas can be more abstract or not visible to the human eye,” Meymarian said. “The solar eclipse was an out-of-this-world phenomena, and for some of our students, maybe a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”