Students find that 'Science Rocks' in moon's shadow

The theme from “2001: A Space Odyssey” roared over the loud speakers as a field of 800 Pound Middle School kids shrieked with joy when the solar eclipse reached totality Monday – all of them gazing toward the skies for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

In fact, they were joined by shouts, oohs and ahs, and moments of awe – “science rocks!” – from students across the community with more than 50,000 Lincoln Public Schools students, educators and volunteers standing in the shadow of the moon when a strange twilight descended over our schools.

Check out our students' Eclipse in Six!

“Look up at the sky,” Pound Principal Chris Deibler shouted over loud speakers, “this is a sight you won’t ever see again in Lincoln, Nebraska in your lifetime…Look at the sunrise all around the horizon…Feel the temperature…Really enjoy this moment.”

“We have been running a playlist of eclipse music today, we have practiced with the ‘magic whistle,’ and I think everyone is pretty excited about this experience,” Deibler said. 

After an uncertain forecast over the last few days, it was as if the clouds parted early Monday afternoon in honor of Lincoln’s solar totality allowing LPS staff and students – first graders through seniors – to peer upward with their special safety eclipse glasses and watch as the moon gradually blanketed out the sun’s rays until it was a perfect glimmering ring.

"To hear the kids cheering was music to my ears," said James Blake, the Science Curriculum Specialist at LPS - and the man who coordinated the entire district-wide effort.  "In a way this is almost exactly what I expected, we planned this so well, I've lived this over and over in my mind - even in my dreams."

A total solar eclipse happens when the moon falls exactly between the earth and the sun, essentially blocking out the sun for a period of time. This is the first time Lincoln has experienced a total eclipse in 500 years – and schools across the community experienced varying time periods of totality: Norwood Park Elementary School with the shortest totality at 31 seconds, and Lincoln Southwest High School with the most at 1 minute, 49 seconds.

Kindergartners – and students who opted out of going outdoors – were given a special indoor viewing experience.

Solar Eclipse
written by Ted Kooser (1979)

The moon wants to see
what it is that the sun sees.
She stands where the sun stands,
and the world goes dark.
Things look the same to her
as they always look.
Shrugging her shoulders,
she walks away.

Published: August 21, 2017, Updated: August 21, 2017