Clarksville, TN – On June 21st, Austin Peay State Univeristy (APSU) hosted an educational summit, “Preparing for the Big Event,” which provided elementary and middle school teachers from across Middle Tennessee with strategies on how to incorporate the eclipse into subjects such as science, mathematics, language arts, art and music.
More than 4,000 years ago, Chung K’ang, the fourth emperor of the Hea dynasty in China, reportedly executed two astronomers named Hi and Ho because they didn’t predict a solar eclipse.“So (an eclipse) is a very important thing; it can be life-threatening,” Dr. Rex Gandy, Austin Peay State University provost and vice president of academic affairs, joked recently. “And it’s pretty amazing. The sun is 90 million miles away, and it’s huge, so what are the odds that there is this little rock a quarter million miles away that just blots out the sun almost perfectly.”
Next year, on August 21st, 2017, that “little rock” in the sky will cause Clarksville to go dark for about two minutes during what NASA is calling “The Great American Eclipse.” Clarksville is one of the few cities in North America located along the eclipse’s path of totality, meaning the city is one of the best places in the world to witness the rare event.
The APSU Department of Physics and Astronomy is preparing several activities for that day, but this summer, the University’s Martha Dickerson Eriksson College of Education is making sure local students get to take full advantage of this upcoming eclipse.
Several hundred teachers arrived at the campus’ Dunn Center that morning, where they received special solar glasses for next year’s event. Dr. Carlette Hardin, dean of the Martha Dickerson Eriksson College of Education, said they intend to distribute glasses to schools for students to use on the day of the eclipse.
Mitzi Adams, a NASA astrophysicist, served as the event’s keynote speaker, and she provided additional pointers on how to engage elementary and middle-school-aged students.
“These teachers are going to learn about the sun, about how to view the sun safely and hopefully they’re going to encourage their students to experience this event that may not occur for them, in a place that’s easy to get to, for the rest of their lives,” Adams said before the summit. “It’s an event that doesn’t happen very often, it’s an event that inspires awe, and hopefully it’s an event that will cause students to study science and technology.”
Hardin said the College will host another summit next summer, just a few months before the eclipse, for area high school teachers.
For more information on the upcoming solar eclipse and APSU events associated with it, visit www.apsu.edu/eclipse