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USM Center for STEM Education Distributes Solar Eclipse Kits to 120 Schools

Mon, 04/01/2024 - 11:40am | By: Van Arnold

The Center for STEM Education at The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) hopes to enlighten K12 students about the wonders of next week’s rare solar eclipse by providing kits to 120 schools across the country.

While most of the kits were shipped to Mississippi schools, others were sent as far away as Texas, Washington, and Pennsylvania. The viewing kits include a set of solar eclipse glasses, a video of USM scientists explaining the eclipse, and hands-on activities to demonstrate solar eclipses.

“As part of our STEM on Demand program, the Center for STEM education provides relevant, well-designed and engaging lessons to help teachers bring STEM into their classrooms,” said Dr. Teresa Lampe, STEM education researcher at USM. “We wanted to help teachers explain how and why solar eclipses occur.”

On Monday, April 8 a total solar eclipse will cross North America, passing over Mexico, the United States, and Canada. A total solar eclipse happens when the moon passes between the sun and earth, completely blocking the face of the Sun. The sky will darken as if it were dawn or dusk.

The Center for STEM Education will hold viewing parties on the Hattiesburg campus and Gulf Park campus in Long Beach. Viewing details are as follows:

  • Hattiesburg campus – Viewing begins at 12:33 p.m. and ends at 3:11 p.m. on the south side lawn of the Walker Science Building. Maximum coverage of 87 percent (a partial eclipse)will occur at 1:53 p.m.
  • Gulf Park campus in Long Beach – Viewing begins at 12:31 p.m. ends at 3:10 p.m. in the Lofty Lot. Maximum coverage of 84 percent (a partial eclipse) will occur at 1:51 p.m.

More than 3,000 K12 students will have an opportunity to utilize the solar eclipse kits. Dr. Chris Sirola, Associate Professor of physics and astronomy, doctoral candidate Caroline Sorey, and Chrissy Hudson, senior finance and administration specialist in the Center for STEM Education, helped coordinate the effort.

Lampe noted the occasion to engage young people in such a unique and exciting experience cannot be overstated.

“Because of the rarity of solar eclipses, it is a great opportunity to get students excited about science,” said Lampe. “In everyday life, students are inundated with technology. A solar eclipse gives adults and children the opportunity to pause and appreciate the wonders of the natural world.”

To learn more about the Center for STEM Education at USM, call 601.266.4739 or visit: