BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - The Berkeley Heights Public Library received 55 pairs of special NASA protective glasses to hand out at their eclipse themed learning and craft session Monday morning, led by Marianne Gonzalez.
As the families poured into the library, they were given a number to receive their one pair [per family] of eclipse glasses. The supply quickly ran out because of the large turnout of young families attending the event.
Gonzalez asked the children if they knew what was going to happen later that afternoon. She explained that the eclipse involves the Sun, the Moon and planet Earth -- explaining the importance of the Sun's role in the Solar System and how the planets revolve around the Sun. A curtain showed the planets and the path of orbit.
The eclipse happens when the Moon travels between the Sun and Earth, said Gonzalez. "Earth will be dark for a few minutes because there will be no light from the Sun," she explained.
In actuality, the path of eclipse totality could be seen from Lincoln Beach, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina -- passing through parts of 14 states. While New Jersey was out of the path, observers outside still witnessed a partial solar eclipse where the moon covered part of the sun's disk, leaving a crescent moon light.
The children left with knowledge of this rare scientific occurrence while having fun singing songs, crafting their own eclipse and listening to stories about the planets.
Most important, they learned that you should never look directly at the sun without appropriate protection except during totality -- and each family left with a pair of eclipse glasses while supplies lasted. .
Who knows, possibly the excitement of this rare scientific event will spark interest in children to go into science and STEM-related fields in their future.