Schools use eclipse as teaching moment

ROANOKE CO., Va. (WDBJ7) We’re just four days away from the solar eclipse, and for many of us, it’s the first time we’ll be experiencing this kind of eclipse here in the United States.

Here in the Roanoke Valley, we’re lucky enough to get 90-94% totality of that eclipse.

In Roanoke County, students aren’t even back at school yet, and they’re using this as a teaching moment.

Julian Barnes is the Science Supervisor, and he is using social media to get students and parents involved safely.

They’re creating pin-hole cameras. Here are some basic instructions: You take a piece of cardboard, or a box, cut a small square out, cover it up with some aluminum, and punch a tiny hole in the paper.

You can use that to view the eclipse, without even facing it, which is what Barnes recommends most.

“Showing them how they can observe safely, even if they don’t have the solar glasses, and then talking about some of the things they may be able to do to take it in. They don’t need to have a class to be able to see an eclipse,” he said.

And here's another pretty cool tip Barnes gave us: If you have the solar glasses, head outside before the eclipse to test them out. Hold them up flush against your face, and you'll be able to see the orange glow of the sun, but you shouldn't feel like your eyes are strained or hurt at all.

"Even though the kids aren't in class, we hope that they see what's going on, and then they start to make the connection between the moon covering up the sun, and then they're going to start seeing some stars, and then there's this whole idea that the stars are just blocked out by this sunlight," he said.

In Franklin County, they have eclipse glasses that will be distributed to students whose parents signed a permission form.

At the high school, students will be going outside around 2:25 p.m. on Monday, and the science teachers will have a few activities or announcements before heading back to class. Their school day has been extended for this once in a lifetime event, and they're going to be live streaming the eclipse in the auditorium as well as on TV's in the common areas throughout the day.