Use the annular solar eclipse to teach your kids about science

My 5-year-old daughter Vanessa is a little nerd and I say that lovingly. She loves science and math, but she also loves writing and reading and pretty much everything in between. At school, her teacher has told me she's one of the most curious little girls she's taught in a while. She has a question for everything, but one of the areas that she's most interested in, believe it or not, is astronomy.

She's crazy about the solar system--and even got a talking model last Christmas that teaches her details about each planet--and so she's super excited about tomorrow's annular solar eclipse. Although I'm not a huge science buff--in fact, I don't really like science--her father is and so he's using this rare event as a great teaching opportunity.

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My husband has spent the last couple of days explaining what an annular solar eclipse is, how and why it happens and more than anything how it's very important not to look straight at the sun during the eclipse because you can seriously damage your eyes, even if you use binoculars or a telescope.

While I don't particularly care for science--mostly because I don't understand it--I've made sure to never show my dislike to my daughter. I want her to be able to explore whatever she likes without any kind of predisposition or bias. Luckily, her dad loves science and he can totally take over in this arena, which is great because it helps them bond over something that only the two of them share.

The plan for today is to make a pinhole camera so they can go ahead and watch the annular solar eclipse without hurting their eyes. The project is simple and they'll be following the instructions given by NASA on how to make a pinhole camera. I can't wait to see my daughter's amazement when she puts it to use!

Do you plan on watching the annular solar eclipse with your children? Tells us in the comments below. 

Image via NASA Goddard Photo and Video/flickr

Topics: child rearing  education  parents and children