Cubicles, classrooms, and even some streets emptied out Monday afternoon as Bloomington-Normal gazed up to the sky for the much-anticipated solar eclipse.
Some cloudy weather rained on the parade for some local eclipse-watchers. But the weather didn’t seem to dampen the excitement at Evans Junior High School, where some students have been learning about the eclipse and related concepts since last year.
When the big moment arrived Monday—between 1:10-1:20 p.m.—students put on their safety glasses and headed outside.
Seventh-grader Nate Wells was wearing a T-shirt—made by his mom—with a total eclipse on it. How excited was he? On a scale of one to a billion, “it’s definitely a billion.”
“It’s awesome, and I’m not going to miss out on it,” Wells said.
Suzanne Jones, a seventh-grade science teacher at Evans, asked her students to keep track of the changing temperature, atmospheric conditions, and light before and during the eclipse. Students are learning important math and science concepts, such as ratios related to the size of the sun, moon, and earth.
“The excitement is just overwhelming,” Jones said.
The learning also extends beyond science, touching many subjects at Evans. Students are even writing 6-word memoirs that are being passed to NASA to be put in a time capsule until 2024—the next solar eclipse.
“All of it is interconnected. I love that it’s an event that the kids can experience teachers’ passions from different disciplines and not think, ‘Oh, this is just math, this only happens in a math classroom,’” said Cheryl Springwood, the science building chair at Evans. “These are tools that are going to apply in lots of different ways,” she said.
At Illinois State, students and faculty packed the Quad and used free safety glasses being distributed by the university. ISU senior Jermaine Sanders was one of them, despite the weather.
“I’m still kind of curious because I have never experienced it before,” Sanders said. “I was also thinking of praying on campus as the eclipse was happening just for some kind of peace and togetherness for the rest of the school year or semester. But I was going to add my own twist to it just in case everything didn’t play out (due to the weather).”
Faculty like Charles Su from the Department of Physics also came out to the Quad.
“I think it is important because students are interested, but I think the very fact that we know so precisely about what is going to happen and when it is going to happen tells us that we have done a lot of science to a point where it is not that interesting anymore,” Su said. “And that very point, to me, is interesting.”
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