The Emmett School District transformed the Gem Island Sports Complex on the city’s northern edge into an interactive classroom on Monday, the morning of the great eclipse of 2017.
“This was such an opportunity for education,” Superintendent Wayne Rush said. “It just landed in our laps.”
Emmett was in the path of totality on Monday. Students of all ages and their families came out to enjoy interactive displays set up by district teachers. There was a lot to choose from.
Shadow Butte Elementary hosted the “spectrometer” stand where students could create rainbows using cereal boxes, broken CDs and scotch tape.
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Emmett High math and physics teacher Shayne Seubert helped students visualize the workings of an eclipse with the aid of a scale model made from wooden rulers.
Seubert had been posting science tidbits about eclipses for his students in the weeks leading up to the big day to get them excited. He’s excited himself. Monday marked Seubert’s own first-hand experience of a full eclipse. He’s also excited to have 10 students signed up for his physics class this year.
Science can be daunting for some students, he said, so he plans to spend the year breaking down some of the misconceptions they have — that science is scary, elitist and all about lab coats. He wants his students to know that “scientists are regular people.”
“My hope is that even if my students don’t choose careers in science, they will leave thinking about the world in a new way.”
The district’s eclipse day will help promote that idea, he said. “Not to mention that the eclipse is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
While waiting for the eclipse, students made chalk art renditions of the sun in various states of shade. Other students got their arms and faces painted with planets, stars, moons wearing sunglasses and rocket ships. The district set up a telescope aimed at the sun so students could see the famous star “pre-eclipse.”
“I saw dark spots on the sun and rays with angles,” Kenyon Carter, an Emmett Middle School student reported after taking a look.
When the eclipse began, temperatures began to fall. Activity, educational and otherwise, paused. Students, families and teachers settled into their chairs and onto picnic blankets.
They watched as sunlight became lilac-colored and not a little surreal on the grassy slopes of Gem Island.
As totality cast its shadow, one teacher noted the planet Venus, suddenly visible in the sky, as well as a bluish band of light, a 360-degree sunset, around the horizon.
It didn’t last long — full totality at any rate.
But it did not disappoint.
“The hype was real,” Robert Brown, an Emmett High 10th grader said after the skies began to lighten and the day returned to something like normal.
Brown was wearing a t-shirt with a picture of an astronaut that read: “I Need More Space” and still had on his eclipse glasses, pushed back on his head.
“That was cool. Let’s do it again,” he said.