Lowcountry teachers preparing lesson plans; businesses impacted - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Lowcountry teachers preparing lesson plans; businesses impacted by solar eclipse

(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)

In just three days, thousands of people in the United States will experience total darkness as a solar eclipse spans from the west coast to the east coast - for the first time in more than 100 years. 

Areas like Charleston, Columbia and even Greenville will have the chance to experience the total eclipse that will only last about 3 minutes. In theory, it may not seem like a big deal but for those of us living in the Lowcountry, it will leave us in the dark. 

The last nationwide total solar eclipse was in 1918.

"I think it's just once in a lifetime experience to just see it," said Jolene Balderas, 7th Grader, Hilton Head Middle School.

Some people are even traveling hundreds of miles for their best vantage point - helping businesses during a slower time on the island.

"It helped us a lot," said Chris Bracken, Director of Sales, Sonesta Resort. "We still have an additional 60-70 guest rooms as a result of this. Guests are coming in on Sunday night for one night, some on Monday night for one night to take advantage of it. We're only about 30-40 miles as the crow flies outside of the eclipse so they should get a pretty good view." 

There are other signs that the eclipse is here besides the 97 percent darkness. 

"Birds sing their evening song even though it's in the middle of the afternoon or some Cicadas that come out early because they think the sun is setting, and on the flip side as the moon is moving away from the sun," said Annie Cavalier, Science Teacher, Hilton Head Middle School. "We'll see the same things. Birds will start singing their morning songs because they think it's morning again."

Several businesses and organizations in the Lowcountry are hosting watch parties for this phenomenon. With the eclipse happening between 2:30 p.m. and 3 p.m., schools are not passing up the chance for a learning experience. 

Schools have been working with teachers on how to prepare lesson plans to help students understand the phenomenon. WTOC was in the classroom today learning more about how you can prepare yourself without those fancy glasses. 

Students at Hilton Head Island Middle School are learning how to view the eclipse using a roll of foil and a cereal box. Class began with an interactive lecture that showed students what really takes place in the sky when the eclipse happens. Students then moved onto making their own eclipse viewers. They had two choices: an index card or a cereal box. Next, the viewers were put to the test using an artificial sun. 

“To learn how the solar eclipse rotates and revolves. When I go home, I’m going to check where the sun is located so I can see if it’s a good area to see the solar eclipse," said Jolene Balderas, 7th Grader, Hilton Head Middle School. 

“This is a once in a lifetime experience, so we want them to be prepared and understand. Because they're a young age, they might not be able to grasp how cool this is and how unique this really is to this area," said science teacher, Annie Cavalier, Hilton Head Middle School. 

One of the most interesting facts the students learned in their lessons is the solar eclipse’s impact on wildlife. You may hear the birds sing their evening songs and the cicadas come out a little earlier just because they think the sun is going to set.

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