Discovery Ridge Elementary - Solar Scope Event - September 23, 2010

posted Sep 26, 2010, 3:33 PM by Jim Twellman
This event was in response to a request by this new school's principal.  It was kind of new ground for us, but it went extremely well.  The school dedicated several days for fun and learning that they termed "Discovery Days".  The new schools' mascot: STARS !
Jim & Yvonne Roe and myself arrived at the school around 8am and got set up.  Our first "customers" lined up around 8:45 and we had a constant flow of eager little eyes until we closed down around 2pm (minus a 20 minute lunch period, which was very nice).  It was a very warm day, but we had a good little breeze.  The younger (k-2) kids were to be entertained by a visit from a helicopter after we left.
The kids who viewed thru the scopes consisted of the school's 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade classes only.  They numbered 190 kids, plus teachers and administrative folks for a total tally in excess of 200.   Each of them were shown the sun thru one of ASEM's two solar scopes.  Several prominences were seen (and they changed significantly between each class), along with sunspots.  Later viewers could also make out a solar 'filament'.   Kids were asked to draw what they saw when they got back to class.
We explained how the view of the sun that they had during that hour would be different from the view that other classes had.  We had posters about the sun (thanks Amy!) taped to the outside wall for them to read while they waited their turn.  We also gave them some safety warnings and explained a bit of what they saw and answered questions for each class (x 6).
The kids were reminded of our evening program at Broemmelsiek Park the following night.  We had lots of "WOW's" and the kids did a great job of saying "thank you".  I also received a nice thank-you from the school's principal afterwards. 
The two solar scopes proved enough to handle this 200 person event.  Each kid had 30 - 60 seconds to view the sun, so no one was rushed. The children were well-behaved and the teachers were a big help as well.  I'm encouraged that we can do more such events like this in the future.
Jim Twellman
Above:  Jim Twellman points out solar prominences on an image of a solar eclipse.
Below:  Students admire a lunar globe donated by Jim Roe.