Astronomers Without Borders Focuses on Bringing Eclipse Science to All

Children watching eclipse in Spain
Children use special glasses to observe a partial solar eclipse on March 20, 2015, in Madrid, Spain. Astronomers Without Borders is using the 2017 total solar eclipse as an opportunity to get kids interested in science. (Image credit: Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty)

Inspired by the upcoming total solar eclipse on Aug. 21, Astronomers Without Borders (AWB) is launching a nationwide science and astronomy educational program that will target underserved communities.

The Building on the Eclipse Education Program features science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) studies. While the program is open to all across the United States, AWB hopes to reach communities and youth groups that may otherwise not have the opportunity to learn about the solar eclipse and other science topics. 

"Once they look up, we don't want them to stop," Lindsay Bartolone, education director at AWB and for the Building on Eclipse Education Program, said in a statement. "The Astronomers Without Borders Building on the Eclipse Education Program offers educators from diverse settings resources and professional support to build on kids' excitement and continue learning about and being amazed by the sun." [How to View a Solar Eclipse Without Damaging Your Eyes]

The total solar eclipse will sweep across the continental U.S. from Oregon to South Carolina along a path about 70 miles (113 kilometers) wide. Skywatchers in this "path of totality" will see the moon completely cover the sun's disk, while viewers outside that path will see a partial solar eclipse. 

Astronomers Without Borders hopes to use this celestial event as inspiration for students to engage in a wide variety of STEM education lessons and activities. This effort will continue throughout the following academic year, according to the statement

The Building on the Eclipse Education Program includes lesson plans and other resources, such as special eclipse-viewing glasses and spectroscope kits. (Spectroscopy uses sunlight to reveal the chemical composition of the star.) The program also offers access to a network of education and astronomy experts for ongoing support with scientific activities. Professional and amateur astronomers are invited to help support participating groups. 

The program is sponsored by Google and will be offered to both formal and informal educational groups, including schools, libraries, museums, nature centers, youth groups and more. AWB said it encourages applications for the program from groups located in inner cities or isolated rural communities, on Native American reservations or military installations, and those at children's hospitals. The group has also committed to sending out over 100,000 free pairs of eclipse glasses.

"The eclipse is an amazing natural phenomenon that serves as the inspiration for study of the sciences," Mike Simmons, president and founder of AWB, said in the statement. "We hope isolated and traditionally underserved communities in particular will take advantage of the program, bringing STEM into classrooms that might have limited resources."

Eligible groups can learn more about the program and register at AWB is also giving away free solar-eclipse-viewing glasses to underserved communities, so that everyone can watch the celestial event safely. 

Follow Samantha Mathewson @Sam_Ashley13. Follow us @Spacedotcom,Facebook and Google+. Original article on

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at:

Samantha Mathewson
Contributing Writer

Samantha Mathewson joined as an intern in the summer of 2016. She received a B.A. in Journalism and Environmental Science at the University of New Haven, in Connecticut. Previously, her work has been published in Nature World News. When not writing or reading about science, Samantha enjoys traveling to new places and taking photos! You can follow her on Twitter @Sam_Ashley13.