Solar Eclipse Awesome Totality: Lesson Plan

Learn about the path of the 2017 solar eclipse, coming to North Carolina on August 21.  

UNC-TV Media

Alignment to NC Essential Standards

  • 6.E.1.1 — Explain how the relative motion and relative position of the sun, Earth and moon affects the seasons, tides, phases of the moon and eclipses.

Learning Outcomes

  • Students will identify the “path of totality” for the August 21, 2017 solar eclipse.
  • Students will describe the awesome totality phase of the solar eclipse. 
  • Students will identify the major scientific theory that the awesome totality phase of the 1919 eclipse helped to prove.

Essential Questions

  1. What communities in North Carolina are in the path of totality for the August 21, 2017 eclipse, and at what time will they view it? 
  2. What occurs during the awesome totality phase of the solar eclipse? 
  3. How did Einstein use the 1919 solar eclipse to advance his scientific theory?

Essential Vocabulary

  • Path of totality
  • Awesome totality
  • Space-time

Engage

Access students’ prior knowledge of solar eclipses by having them view the UNC-TV Science animation “Solar Eclipse.” 

Afterwards, lead the class in a discussion of the five phases of the solar eclipse, with an emphasis on the totality phase. Ask them what the totality phase looks like to them, and include in the discussion the fact that a portion of North Carolina will be in the “path of totality.” Also, be sure to stress the dangers of looking directly at the sun during the eclipse.

Explore

Prepare the students for this activity by explaining that there are several communities in North Carolina that are in the path of totality for the August 21 solar eclipse. Each community will experience the “awesome totality” phase of the eclipse at different times, and for different durations. 

Students will refer to the interactive map Eclipse Communities in North Carolina and fill in the chart on the attached PDF. A completed chart for this activity can be found here.

Explain

Students will view the UNC-TV Science animation “Awesome Totality,” and answer the questions on the attached PDF.

Extend

Students will view the UNC-TV Science video “High-Altitude Balloon Science,” and answer the questions on the attached PDF.

Evaluate

Using the completed chart from the Engage activity—beginning with the “DURATION TOTALITY” column—and the Path of Totality PDF, students will estimate locations of each community on the attached PDF Student Map of North Carolina. Finished projects should include the following:

  • Locations and labels for each of the communities 
  • Notes for starting time and duration of totality 
  • Lines or art connecting the locations and illustrating the totality path