Just when our planet needed a positive distraction, nature provided. Monday’s eclipse lived up to the hype, even at the Seed. Initially, we made an executive decision to keep our students indoors to protect their young eyes. We made plans for older classes to watch live stream coverage of the eclipse and some classes began researching the upcoming event. As the week leading up to the eclipse unfolded, we revised our decision. Juggling curiosity and liability, we came up with a plan to open direct experience to the 3rd/4th graders. It’s a decision I’m glad we made.
On Monday morning 3rd/4th graders arrived with viewing contraptions they’d assembled over the weekend. One was a pizza box lid that said “Thank you.” A small opening was cut in the lid and aluminum foil was taped over it, with a tiny hole poked through the foil. One family brought a box with small holes in it and a white piece of paper inside. Another family attached a set of binoculars to a box lid that worked well to focus the eclipse image on a piece of paper below. They even thought to bring a music stand for holding the paper receiving the image. Several families brought protective glasses for safely looking at the sun. We all took turns looking at the eclipse, then switching to the reflected images. A favorite moment was standing with several students, in awe of the crescent-shaped images projected through tree leaf shadows on the sidewalk. Briefly everyone’s attention was united by a phenomenon that deepened awareness of our shared humanity.
Throughout the morning we followed live stream coverage in other parts of the country. I was particularly interested in the NASA coverage from Beatrice, Nebraska, a place close to my hometown in the path of totality. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gE3rmKISGu4&app=desktop Several classes joined older students to watch the coverage and ask questions about their viewing devices. Later, students made art, wrote in their journals, and composed haikus about the eclipse.
In the days that followed, a former Seed teacher shared pictures of friends sitting in the midday darkness along Idaho’s Snake River. We watched a video of a 12-year-old Seed alum, exclaiming his amazement as the temperature dropped and the sky went dark from their vantage point, also in Idaho. An adult Seed alum wrote this after experiencing totality: “I screamed. Then I cried. And hours later I’m still getting teary thinking about it…. Totality. This was one of, if not *THE* most incredible thing I’ve experienced. I was not expecting to be so blown away, moved, amazed, and emotional because of it. Now I get why people travel to see total solar eclipses…Evoking some primal understanding where fear and joy coexist and one feels simultaneously insignificant and connected with it all; a piece of the whole… this eclipse was more than I ever could have imagined.”
Deb Hopkins (our Preschool 4s teacher) and her family made the long trip to Oregon for their eclipse experience. I can’t wait till she returns to hear all her stories. Although I haven’t been in direct contact with Deb, I heard she said it was great and too quick. Her words have stuck with me, reminding me of life. If I’ve learned anything from the eclipse, it’s this: dwelling too much on the past or worrying about the future is a distraction from what’s right in front of us. Life does go quickly and daily provides opportunities I want to experience. I’m glad I didn’t miss this one.