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WVU Extension STEMCARE collaborates to educate ahead of solar eclipse

Elementary school students stand outside in their solar eclipse glasses provided by WVU Extension STEMCARE.

Students and teachers at Allen T. Allison Elementary School in Hancock County smile and pose for a photograph while wearing their WVU Extension STEMCARE eclipse glasses. (WVU Photo)

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The busy campus tour season at West Virginia University coincides with the rare solar eclipse on April 8. With many potential students and families signed up for campus tours that day, the WVU Extension STEMCARE program has stepped up to provide eclipse glasses for all participants.

“We appreciate our partnership with WVU Extension, their faculty and particularly their STEM initiatives, showcasing the way a modern land-grant institution interacts with our communities both on and off our campuses,” said Terry Jackson, director of the WVU Visitors Center“When visitors are on campus, we strive to show the impact WVU makes broadly through our land-grant mission. Distributing these glasses to our visitors highlights just one small way WVU Extension puts service in action with an innovative approach.”

Altogether, WVU Extension STEMCARE has already distributed more than 12,000 pairs of eclipse glasses in preparation for the event, funded by the WVU Extension partnership with Mylan, a Viatris company.

Glasses were distributed to county Extension offices, schools and various outreach events across the state. WVU Extension agents then take the glasses and other STEMCARE activities and educational materials into schools in their county to reinforce scientific learning while making it fun and engaging for the students.

“Some schools don’t have as much STEM curriculum, so when I go into schools, I am doing a lot of STEM education and activities with students,” said Zach White, 4-H Youth Development agent in Hancock County. “The kids are so smart, and they want to know more. When they put on these eclipse glasses, see the little black sunspot, and get to learn more about it, they feel like they’re a part of this bigger conversation. It empowers them to dive deeper into it and keep learning more.”

WVU Extension STEMCARE also created an educational solar eclipse video in collaboration with the WVU Department of Physics and Astronomy, as well as a downloadable lesson plan to go along with the glasses.

In addition to eclipse-specific information, 20,000 “Try This at Home” STEM kits also were distributed that teach students about other kinds of solar and space science. This includes an activity on how to make UV beads and a pocket solar system.

On the day of the eclipse, the WVU Planetarium and Observatory also will host a solar eclipse viewing party, from 1:30-4:30 p.m. on the Mountainlair Green where glasses will be provided, astronomers can answer questions and participants can view the eclipse through solar filter-equipped telescopes.

“This kind of collaboration between the STEMCARE team and WVU units, as well as county Extension agents, allows us to achieve the goals of our program by reaching and teaching more youths in West Virginia,” Jen Robertson-Honecker, director of the WVU Extension STEMCARE program and associate professor, said. “I work with WVU faculty from across the University to develop meaningful lessons and resources that our agents can use with youths and educators in their communities.”

Find more information about the STEMCARE program and explore the catalog of STEM activities and curriculum.



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WVU Extension

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