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Teachers Experience Teachable Moment at NCCAT During Total Solar Eclipse

Teachers at NCCAT experience The Great American Eclipse

CULLOWHEE—Teachers from across North Carolina took part in the “Once In A Lifetime: Astronomy and Experiencing The Total Solar Eclipse” program at the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching, a recognized national leader in professional development programming for teachers.

The final part of the program found teachers being able to look skyward and see the Great American Eclipse that reached totality around 2:35 p.m. Monday, August 21, 2017, at the NCCAT Cullowhee campus.

The NCCAT offering took place over two days. NCCAT’s Cullowhee campus was in the path of totality and created a perfect spot for viewing the phenomenon.

The eclipse was the first one visible in the United States since 1979 and marked the first time in more than 500 years that a total solar eclipse has taken place in Cullowhee.

Teachers were given ideas to take to their classrooms and make the eclipse a real life teachable moment for their students.

“It was all inspiring for sure,” said Joshua Williams of South Stoke High School at Stokes County Schools. “While teaching science, I’ve always said that, ‘If you can’t get kids excited about science, what with NASA and astronomy, you can’t reach them.’” To have been here and experienced the eclipse, I can bring it all together when teaching.”

Surry County teacher Daron Atkins agreed.

“Being able to experience this and have the instruction behind it was amazingly helpful,” said Atkins, who teaches at North Surry High School. “I’m in my 50s, and I was a learner today. That is important to be able to do for any teacher—to always be able to be a learner.”

Many North Carolina teachers traveled great distances to be with NCCAT for the program. Tracey Reason, a Williamston Primary School teacher in Martin County Schools, told ednc.org she wanted to be in the path of totality and be able to share the experience with students.

“I knew we are going to get a lot of valuable information—and I wanted to get a lot of information for my students,” Reason said.

Presenters included Jake Evans of the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center and Michelle Benigno of The Science House at North Carolina State University.

“Today was just amazing. What I love was the collaboration between the North Carolina State Science House and the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching to provide this type of information for North Carolina classrooms,” Benigno said. “That was an impressive example of us working together to bring teachers great professional development. The topics we covered are always exciting, but to be able to cover them and then see the eclipse in action is very useful. For example, I never thought I would see shadow bands in my lifetime. We all had that breathtaking moment that we can take back to breath new life into our classrooms.”

About NCCAT

Increasing teacher effectiveness is fundamental to improving public education. NCCAT provides teachers with new knowledge, skills, teaching methods, best practices and information to take back to their classrooms. For more information about NCCAT’s professional development programs, visit www.nccat.org or call 828-293-5202.

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