A highly-anticipated total solar eclipse is set to cut a path across a large portion of the United States on August 21, but not everyone has the proper gear to see it safely.
But some organizations want to change that.
The company Mystery Science and Google just announced a partnership to provide 15,000 free eclipse glasses to elementary schools so that kids around the country can safely view the event.
Both kids and adults need eclipse glasses to filter the sun’s strong light. The glasses use solar filters, not just color films like your everyday sunglasses, to protect your eyes. The only time it’s safe to look without your eclipse glasses is during the brief period of total eclipse, when the moon totally covers the face of the sun.
But since only a small portion of the country will see the total eclipse and it only lasts for a moment, everyone should have specialized eclipse glasses.
Mystery Science was founded by former teacher and science department head Doug Peltzand his friend Keith Schacht, a former Facebook product manager.
“Those who have been fortunate enough to experience a total solar eclipse usually describe it as a ‘moment of awe’,” Schacht said in a press release. “The next Marie Curie or Albert Einstein is somewhere out there right now. Experiencing this eclipse might be a singular event that inspires a lifetime of curiosity.”
In addition to helping science teachers get their hands on the glasses in time for the eclipse, the pair is also working to get free eclipse lesson plans into classrooms.
The glasses will ship directly to schools and lesson plans are available for free download. Mystery Science can only ship one box of 200 pairs of glasses to each school. So teachers must confirm that at least 200 students at their school will be viewing the eclipse. And since the company won’t send more than one box in order to deliver the glasses to as many schools as possible, any schools with over 200 students will need to double up on glasses.
Google has already partnered with others, like the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and NASA, to bring two million pairs of eclipse glasses to around 4,800 local libraries in the country. But Mystery Science wanted to make sure that science teachers who couldn’t get to the library had a chance to let their kids watch the eclipse.
The project, called Eclipse America, also has an entire website dedicated to learning about the event. Teachers can learn if their schools are in the path of totality, exactly what time it will happen in their area, and what their students can expect to see. There’s an eclipse countdown and a menu to type in a school’s zip code to make sure everyone’s outside at the right time during the school day.
Mystery Science, which is backed by a number of education and angel investors, wants to give elementary school teachers the chance to fully understand what they’re teaching while getting the kids to love what they’re learning. Teachers can buy individual memberships or entire school districts can buy licenses for all the teachers.
Having a subscription to Mystery Science makes no difference in this matter, though. Any science teacher in the U.S. can make a free request for their classroom. So if you’re planning on viewing the eclipse with your bunch of wide-eyed students, put in your request now, before all the glasses are claimed.