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King School

An independent day school educating students PreK-Grade 12

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Lessons of Astronomical Importance

King’s inquiry-based approach to learning was in full effect during the solar eclipse that swept across North America on Monday, April 8. The event offered an extraordinary opportunity for educational engagement at every grade level, fostering a deeper understanding of the cosmos and Earth’s place within it. Students, faculty, and staff across campus donned protective glasses to view the eclipse phenomenon together as scientists and astronomy fans.

Middle School

Leading up to the event, students in the Lower School delved into units focused on Earth and space. Fifth grade students, in particular, explored how celestial bodies can be used for direction, addressing the essential question, "How can we navigate using the sky?" Students investigated the solar system and engaged in a NASA activity called "Survivor of the Moon," working in groups to survive a simulated spaceship crash on the moon. They also built mechanical models, called orreries, to learn about the movement of the Earth, Sun, and Moon and constructed a scale model of the solar system using paper to study the varying sunlight exposure each planet receives.

On the Friday before the eclipse, U.S. Geological Survey Physical Scientist Christy Hutchins met virtually with Grade 8 Concepts in Physical Science students to discuss what a solar eclipse is, the path of the 2024 eclipse, and its cultural implications. Hutchins shared her plans to travel to Vermont to witness the eclipse in totality. The virtual visit was notably fitting as a rare earthquake shook the King campus earlier in the day, offering students the opportunity to pose relevant questions to Hutchins, whose geological expertise was especially useful.

Upper School

Science teacher Joe Ryan’s upper school physics classes constructed models of the Earth and Moon in King’s Innovation Lab with the help of Innovation Lab Coordinator Mike Fischthal. After completing the models, students used tabletop lights to imitate the sun’s effect on the celestial bodies. The experiment helped the class better understand the timing of solar eclipses. 

The timing of the eclipse allowed for the upper school Science Department to close out the school day by hosting the “Solar Eclipse Celebration.” The event offered the King community a chance to witness the eclipse firsthand with ISO-certified, NASA-approved solar eclipse glasses. Tables were set up with models that explained the science behind the solar eclipse, data was collected over the course of the event using temperature probes and lux meters, and solar-themed snacks, including Sun Chips and Capri-Sun drinks, were available to guests. The setting added a festive touch to the occasion.