WALNUT, CA–Wearing protective ISO glasses, 10-year-old Eli Gerhardt peered outdside his classroom window at just after 9 a.m. on Monday morning.
The Great American Eclipse was already happening.
“It looks like the moon took a bite out of the sun!” the Walnut Elementary fifth grader exclaimed as the moon began casting its shadow.
“This is amazing!”
Then, a few at a time, his classmates took turns viewing their first solar eclipse.
“I saw the sun and the moon was covering it a little,” said Chloe Lam.
“I’ve been excited to see the eclipse!” she added.
“The solar flares happen when the moon is covering the sun – there are orange flames,” explained classmate Giselle Quintanilla.
From Oregon to South Carolina, the total solar eclipse darkened skies across the continental U.S. for the first time in 99 years.
Although her class stayed inside due to safety concerns, Vejar kindergarten teacher Lisa Gomez made the “big event” memorable with crafts and fun lunar snacks including mini “Moon” pancakes, Sun Chips, and Sunny Delight.
Many classrooms also watched the historic event during a live NASA broadcast.
South Pointe Middle School received a generous donation of 300 eclipse glasses from Mt. San Antonio College.
“All our 6th,7th, and 8th graders will get a chance to see the moon pass in front of the sun this morning,” said science teacher Tom Woodward.
“We talked about safety on Friday. I told them never to look at the sun without the glasses,” he shared.
Students watched an astronomy video and took a 10-question quiz moments before going outside.
“Which eclipse are we seeing today, lunar or solar?” he asked the 6th graders.
“Solar!” they replied.
“Tomorrow we’ll talk about the difference,” the teacher promised.
Beginning at 10:05 a.m., each grade level, about 900 students in total, rotated outside for viewing parties.
“It looks like a crescent moon, but it’s the sun!” exclaimed sixth grader Emily Lee.
“My students were in awe,” shared Diamond Bar High physics teacher Angela Jensvold after the morning’s celestial celebration.
“Students were running to come to class in order not to miss a minute,” she said.
“We observed the sharpness of our shadows and crescent shaped images of the sun in the dappled shade of trees.”
Most of her students used ISO glasses, while some made their own eclipse viewers decorated with kittens and turtles.
“Even though I didn’t give them any extra credit!” Jensvold added.
At Walnut High, chemistry teacher Jeri Burnside bought a class set of 35 certified eclipse glasses over the summer.
“We got a chance to use our ISO glasses to see the sun at maximum coverage for our viewing area, about 67% at 10:21 a.m.,” she said.
“We saw the daylight around us fading and felt the temperature cooling as over half the solar energy was blocked.”
Burnside told students that the next total solar eclipse in the U.S. will occur in 2024, and that there is only one town, Carbondale, Illinois, that will actually be in the path of totality.
“My students will be around 22 to 23 years-old then, so hopefully they will be able to travel to see a total eclipse if they so desire!”