Apr 3, 2024 - News

San Antonio students will learn about space during the eclipse

A child wearing solar eclipse glasses looks up at the sky with his mouth open in awe.

A child views the annular solar eclipse in October last year. Photo: APHOTOGRAFIA/Getty Images

Many Texas schools in the path of totality for Monday's total solar eclipse have called off classes, but others in San Antonio are planning to make the eclipse an educational experience.

Why it matters: Local students outside the path of totality, which will be concentrated on the city's Northwest Side, wouldn't get the same eclipse learning opportunity without a little planning.

Zoom in: Students from Compass Rose, Lighthouse Public Schools, Harmony Public Schools, IDEA Ewing Halsell and IDEA Brackenridge will travel to the Northwest Side to view the eclipse from The Rock at Frost Plaza.

  • They — and students from several elementary schools in Northside and Southwest ISDs also making the trip — will also get to participate in learning activities related to coding, robots, circuits, virtual reality, space exploration and more.
  • The Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Texas at San Antonio will help elementary students learn about astrophysics, cosmology and space exploration.

What they're saying: As the space economy and astronautics industry evolve in Texas and near San Antonio, more career opportunities will open up related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics, Chris Packham, UTSA professor of physics and astronomy, said in a statement.

  • "We hope that our audience will be inspired to help in these cosmic endeavors," Packham said of the students.

Zoom out: Throughout the day, the National Science Foundation (NSF) will be hosting an educational livestream geared toward school-aged children that will feature scientists who study the sun.

  • Hundreds of high school and college students also will participate in science experiments throughout the U.S. during the eclipse, like the NASA- and NSF-sponsored Nationwide Eclipse Ballooning Project.

The big picture: Other schools closer to the path of totality, like Boerne ISD, are closing on Monday partly because they anticipate traffic problems from the thousands of people expected to travel there.

The bottom line: "It was evident we had to … plan an incredible educational experience for students to understand the significance of this cosmic event and how it relates to space exploration," District 4 Councilmember Adriana Rocha Garcia, who represents the Southwest Side and helped organize the day, said in a statement.

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