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Grade 6 Experiences Eclipse on Centerline

Aug 23, 2017 | All School, Fine Arts, Have Fun, Middle School News

Written by Susan Oltman (grade 6 Science) and Jayne Liu (grade 6 Grammar/Comp)
On August 21, students and their teachers embarked on the field trip of the century to the centerline of the solar eclipse. Anticipation as well as atmospheric temperatures were high as we set off at 9 a.m. The journey was slow at times, but we were met at Tugaloo State Park by an escort to lead the way to our pavilion and parking.     Brian Burchik, Director of Spiritual Life, brought us a message about the awesome universe and the vastness of God as the Creator! As we Mustangs seek to design a better world, our creator designed an amazing universe that we live in. It is so ordered, that we could predict this celestial event ages ago! Students worshiped by singing “How Great is our God,” led by Laney Whiting on guitar. Ms. Mattimoe set up solar art materials and we transitioned into observational drawing of the eclipse. With the C1 to C4 contact times spanning about 3 hours, we needed some relief from the sun’s heat, so we drew a little, observed a little, and enjoyed the shady lakeside view!
We used the solar timer app to make sure we didn’t miss one second of the sensory experience!
Excitement built as C1 – the time of first contact – arrived. As the moon continued to move across the disc of the sun, the exclamations grew. So many students couldn’t wait to see the shadow snakes just before totality! As the sky grew a little darker, we could see a crescent sun, feel cooler air, and hear crickets begin chirping as if it were nightfall! Just before the moment of totality, students knew to look for Bailey’s Beads – dots of light created by the moon’s valleys- and the diamond ring that let them know it was safe to take their glasses off to view the sun’s ethereal corona. Sitting by the beach, we saw a sunset-like hue along the horizon of the lake, as well as stars and planets in the dark sky. The exclamations and spontaneous cheers were an expression of gratitude and awe! Listen here.
Viewing the corona, planets and stars during the two minutes of totality:
We all were awed by this image of C3, also known as the “diamond ring,” exactly as we saw it (photo courtesy of Greg Turco, Lake Hartwell):
In two minutes, the diamond ring of C3 appeared signaling the sun reappearing, and back on went our eclipse glasses! One student stated, “If you don’t appreciate how amazing that was, you’re not very grateful.” Another told his teachers, “That was way better than I expected it would be!” This experience was not just another field trip, but seemed like a retreat in which we all experienced something profound together and created an unbreakable bond. This was such an incredible trip, that all would agree the long bus ride was worth it.  “I’ll remember this day for the rest of my life!” exclaimed one girl, which sums up our collective feeling.