Percent Eclipse Still 'Pretty Neat' To Students With Cardboard 'cameras'

A 7

July 14, 1991|By Marc LeGoff | Marc LeGoff,Staff writer

You probably won't see this many kids with cardboard boxes on their heads for quite a while.

That's when the next total eclipse will be visible from North America.

As an experiment in science camp at Howard Community College, 18 middle school students constructed cardboard pinhole "cameras" to safely view Thursday's partial solar eclipse.

And although the moon covered just a small portion of the corner of the sun here -- 7 percent to be exact -- the Columbia crowd seemed to anticipate the celestial event with enthusiasm.

"Being outside here and watching the eclipse through our handmade cameras and through the big telescope is much more interesting than reading about it in some book," said Melissa Kelly, 12.

"You really can't even tell there's an eclipse going onby looking how light it is in the sky. But this is pretty neat just the same. An eclipse doesn't happen very often," Melissa said.

"Onthe white sheet of paper (inside the pinhole camera), you can see how the moon is covering the bottom portion of the sun."

"I'm not really sure what all these dots are. I think I accidentally punched toomany holes in the side of my box," said 13-year-old Summit Sampat.

"Too bad we couldn't take a field trip to Hawaii," where the eclipse was total, she said.

Joining the middle schoolers were a dozen elementary school teachers from Howard, Montgomery and Baltimore counties.

The educators are taking an Earth and Space Science summer course taught by HCC physical science Professor Russell Poch.

Poch says the purpose of his class, supported by a grant from the state Board of Education, is to "teach teachers how to get students turned on to science."

"It's a hands-on approach," he said.

"If you physically involve the kids in the lesson, they're more likely to grasp the concepts."

"And if you make your lessons fun and get the students hooked at a young age, they'll stick with it in high school and possibly become scientists and engineers when they get older."

Poch'sclass visited the planetarium at Patapsco Middle School Thursday morning in preparation for the partial eclipse at 3:34 p.m.

Clarksville Elementary teacher Diane Miller said that because of the course, she has become hooked on science as well.

"I'm learning a lot of new things myself," said Miller, who was taking the course for the third consecutive summer.

"I hope I can draw from these experiences and pass them on to my students."

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