Teaching Kids About the Total Solar Eclipse in Ontario: Your Comprehensive Guide

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Teaching Kids About the Total Solar Eclipse in Ontario: Your Comprehensive Guide

Teachers on Call’s online and in-person tutors love educational activities, especially when learning is hands on! You may have heard that Ontario will be experiencing a rare total eclipse on April 8, 2024. It could be a once-in-a-lifetime event, and doubtless, you and your family will want to experience it! You may have a lot of questions though about when and where it will happen, how to stay safe, and more. Fear not, we have a comprehensive guide with everything you could possibly want to know about the 2024 eclipse, and how to watch it safely, right here in Ontario. Since many school boards are opting for early dismissal or a Professional Activity (PA) Day, we have also included some facts about it, for any questions your children may have.

        Class may not be in session due to the total solar eclipse, but the learning does not need to stop. Teachers on Call’s in-person and online tutoring service are keen on STEM opportunities. If you have students who are interested in math and science enrichment, you will not want to miss this blog. Here are some frequently asked questions about the rare celestial event taking place on April 8, 2024, and how to teach inquisitive students about it.

        What is an eclipse? How does the eclipse happen?

        There are two kinds of eclipses:

        • a Lunar Eclipse happens when the earth passes directly between the sun’s light and the moon.
        • a Solar Eclipse happens when the moon passes directly between the sun’s light and the Earth.

        In both cases, when the eclipse happens, the light from the sun is blocked, casting either parts of the Earth or the moon in shadow. The April 2024 eclipse will be a solar eclipse!

        How do you explain the total eclipse to students with new vocabulary?

        Astronomists call the area of full shadow between the moon and the Earth the Umbra. Wherever the umbra passes over, people on the ground can see a Total Eclipse, or experience what’s otherwise known as Totality.

        The umbra covers only a very, very small area on the Earth, even though it might look quite large if you were looking at a map. If you’re outside of where the umbra is, you may see a Partial Eclipse shadow, which is also known as the Penumbra.

        Depending on where you live and where you are at the time of the eclipse, you might see either a total or partial eclipse!

        When will the total eclipse happen, exactly? And for how long?

        The solar eclipse will pass over North America on April 8, 2024.  That’s a Monday in case you have work or school!

        The time it will happen will depend on your latitude. On a globe or map, these are the lines that run around the middle of the Earth.

        Pelee Island, the southernmost island in Lake Erie, will be the first place in Ontario to see the total eclipse at 3:15 PM. Hamilton, Ontario and Niagara Falls, Ontario will experience totality at 3:18 PM. Bellville, Ontario will see the total eclipse at 3:21 PM.

        How long it will happen will depend on your longitude. These are the lines that run from north to south on a map or globe.

        Why does longitude change the duration? It changes how close are you to the center of the path of totality. Hamilton, Ontario, is just inside the path of totality and will only get about 1m50s of totality. Bellville, Ontario will see the total eclipse for 2m4s. Niagara Falls will get 3m32s of totality!

        Isn’t that neat?

        Which school boards have rescheduled PA Days due to solar eclipse and why?

        Many Ontario school boards have recently decided to reschedule their April Professional Activity (PA) Day to coincide with the solar eclipse on April 8, 2024. This is due to potential student safety concerns with parts of the province in temporary darkness.

        Depending on where you live, the eclipse may occur around the dismissal times of many schools, when children would be outside and possibly looking directly at the sun, which without appropriate protection, can lead to serious problems such as partial or complete loss of eyesight. There were also traffic-related concerns as students could be walking home in temporary darkness. This includes school boards that are not in the direct path of totality, but are concerned about lack of supervision and safety during a partial eclipse.

        While best to check with you school directly closer to the date, the following Ontario School Boards in the Greater Toronto and Golden Horseshoe Area have announced their PA Days are now taking place on April 8, 2024.

        Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School Board (ALCDSB) - Belleville, Kingston, Napanee, Trenton, Quinte West

        Avon Maitland District School Board (AMDSB) - Clinton, Goderich, Exeter, Listowel, Mitchell, Stratford, St. Marys, Wingham

        Bluewater District School Board  - Ayton, Chelsey, Desboro, Dundalk, Durham, Flesherton, Hanover, Hepworth, Holland Centre, Holstein, Kincardine, Lion's Head, Lucknow, Markdale, Maxwell, Meaford, Mildmay, Owen Sound, Paisley, Port Elgin, Ripley, Sauble Beach, Southampton, Tara,  Teeswater, Thornbury, Tobermory, Walkerton, Wiarton

        Brant Haldimand Norfolk Catholic District School Board (BHNCDSB) - Brant, Haldimand, and Norfolk Counties - Brantford, Caledonia

        Bruce-Grey Catholic District School Board (BGCDSB) – Durham, Formosa, Hanover, Kincardine, Mildmay Owen Sound, Port Elgin, Teeswater, Walkerton

        Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario - Brockville, Carleton Place, Clarence-Rockland, Cornwall

        Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board (DPCDSB) - Brampton, Caledon, Mississauga, and Orangeville

        Durham Catholic District School Board (DCDSB) - Ajax, Brock, Pickering, Oshawa, Scugog, Whitby, Uxbridge

        Durham District School Board (DDSB) – Ajax, Brock, Pickering, Oshawa, Scugog, Whitby, Uxbridge

        Grand Erie District School Board - Brant, Haldimand, and Norfolk Counties - Brantford

        Halton Catholic District School Board (HCDSB) – Burlington, Halton Hills, Milton, and Oakville

        Halton District School Board (HDSB) - Burlington, Halton Hills, Milton, and Oakville

        Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board (HWCDSB) - Ancaster, Dundas, Hamilton, Stoney Creek

        Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) - Ancaster, Dundas, Stipley, Stoney Creek, Stoney Creek Mountain, Hamilton, Westdale, Waterdown

        Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board - Bancroft, Belleville, Picton, Trenton, Quinte West

        Huron-Perth Catholic District School Board - Clinton, Dashwood, Dublin, Exeter, Kinkora, Seaforth, Stratford, St. Marys, Wingham, Zurich

        Limestone District School Board (LDSB) - Kingston, Napanee, Odessa

        London District Catholic School Board (LDCSB) - Aylmer, Delaware, Dorchester, Glencoe, Ingersoll, London, Lucan, Parkhill, St. Thomas, Strathroy, Tillsonburg, West Lorne, Woodstock

        Ottawa-Carleton District School Board - Ottawa

        Ottawa Catholic District School Board  - Ottawa

        Peel District School Board (PDSB) – Brampton, Caledon, and Mississauga

        Peterborough Victoria Northumberland and Clarington Catholic District School Board (PVNCCDSB)Bowmanville, Cobourg, Courtice, Douro, Ennismore, Grafton, Lakefield, Lindsay, Newcastle, Norwood, Peterborough, Port Hope

        Rainbow District School Board – Chelmsford, Espanola, Lively, M'Chigeeng, Sudbury, Valley East

        Simcoe District School Board (SCDSB)- Alliston, Angus, Barrie, Bradford, Clearview, Collingwood, Orillia, Midland, Springwater,

        Simcoe Muskoka District School Board (SMCDSB) - Alliston, Angus, Barrie, Beeton, Bracebridge, Bradford, Brechin, Collingwood, Elmvale, Honey Harbour, Huntsville, Innisfil, Midland, Orillia, Parry Sound, Penetanguishene, Tottenham, Victoria Harbour, Wasaga Beach

        Sudbury Catholic District School Board – Adamsdale, Chelmsford, Coniston, Donovan, Gatchell, Garson, Hanmer, Killarney, Lively, Markstay, New Sudbury, South End, Val Caron

        Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB) - Dorchester, Ingersoll, London, Parkhill, St. Thomas, Tillsonburg, Woodstock

        Toronto District School Board (TDSB)Toronto

        Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) – Toronto

        Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) - Akwesasne, Brockville, Carleton Place, Clarence-Rockland, Cornwall

        Upper Grand District School Board – Dufferin County, Guelph, Wellington County

        Waterloo Catholic District School Board (WCDSB)Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo

        Wellington Catholic District School Board  - Guelph, Wellington County

        Which school boards still have school or early dismissal on April 8, 2024?

        Superior-Greenstone District School Board (SGDSB) – Eastern Thunder Bay District -  Marathon, Beardmore, Geraldton, Longlac, Nakina, Dorion, Nipigon, Red Rock, Schreiber, Terrace Bay, Marathon and Manitouwadge

        Superior North Catholic District School Board (SNCDSB) – Eastern and Northern Thunder Bay District - Geraldton, Longlac, Manitouwadge, Marathon, Nakina, Nipigon, Red Rock, Schreiber and Terrace Bay.

        Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB) - Baden, Elmira, Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo

        York Catholic District School Board (YCDSB)Aurora, Keswick, Maple, Markham, Newmarket, Richmond Hill, Thornhill, Woodbridge

        York Region District School Board (YRDSB) – Aurora, East Gwillimbury, Georgina, King, Markham, Newmarket, Richmond Hill, Thornhill, Vaughan, Stouffville

        *It is recommended to check directly with your child’s school for schedule and dismissal time.

        Who is Hosting Solar Ecipse PA Day Camp?

        Arrowhead Provincial Park

        Location: Arrowhead Provincial Park, 451 Arrowhead Park Road, Huntsville, ON, P1H 2J4

        Timing: 8:30am-3pm

        For ages: Senior Kindergarten to Grade 6

        Art Gallery of Burlington

        Location: 1333 Lakeshore Road, Burlington, ON L7S 1A9

        Timing: 9:30am - 3:30pm

        For ages: 7 - 12

        Bishop Strachan School -  Eclipse Afternoon Camp

        Location:  Forest Hill neighbourhood - 298 Lonsdale Rd, Toronto, ON M4V 1X2

        Timing: Lunch dismissal - 6pm

        For: BSS students

        Brick Labs Inc.

        Location: North York neighbourhood, near York Mills Rd. & Leslie St. - 41 Scarsdale Rd Unit 12, Toronto, ON M3B 2R2

        Circle R Ranch 

        Location: Close to London, Ontario - 3017 Carriage Rd, Delaware, ON N0L 1E0

        Timing: 9am - 4:15pm

        For: Senior Kindergarten to Grade 8 

        Hutchison House Museum - Peterborough Historical Society 

        Location: 270 Brock St, Peterborough, ON K9H 2P9

        Timing: 9:30am -12pm

        For ages: 6 - 12

        Lake St. George - Toronto & Region Conservation Authority

        Location: Lake St. George Field Centre - 950 Bethesda Side Rd, Richmond Hill, ON L4E 3G2

        Timing: 9am - 4pm

        For ages: 5 - 12

        Science North Interactice Science Museum Sudbury

        Location: 100 Ramsey Lake Rd, Greater Sudbury, ON P3E 5S9

        Timing: 8:30am - 4:30pm

        For ages: 4 - 5, 6 - 8, 9 - 11

        The Imagination Studio

        Location: 186 Marsh St, Clarksburg, ON N0H 1J0 (close to Thornbury and popular ski and snowboard area, Blue Mountain Resort)

        Timing: 9am-12pm

        When was the last total eclipse in Ontario?

        Did you know that the last time Ontario saw a total eclipse was February 26, 1979? That’s over 45 years ago!

        If seeing a total eclipse is on your bucket list, then you’ll want to make sure you catch this one. Ontario won’t see another total eclipse again until the year 2099!

        Where does the total eclipse cross Ontario?

        Here’s a general map.



        Map of the path of totality for the solar eclipse of April 8, 2024, in Canada. (Credit: Canadian Space Agency)

        The path of totality will cross Mexico, parts of the United States and the eastern Canadian provinces of PEI, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland, so if you can’t get to one of the Ontario cities in the path of totality, check out other nearby viewing locations in North America!

        Which are the best cities to watch the eclipse in Ontario?

        The absolute best cities to watch the total eclipse in the Ontario province this day will be Niagara Falls and Fort Erie!

        The reason why is that the very middle part of the “shadow” will cross approximately through Buffalo, New York. Because of how close they are to the middle of the eclipse, Niagara Falls and Fort Erie will experience the longest periods of totality in Ontario.

        If you can’t make it close to Niagara Falls, then these cities and towns will also experience totality if one is nearby you: Belleville, Kingston, Hamilton, Cornwall, St. Catharines, Grimsby, Port Colborne, Burlington, and Brantford.

        You can also check the interactive map at Time and Date to find the path of totality nearest you.

        Is it safe to watch the total eclipse? Can I take a video of it?

        Even when totality begins, it is not safe to look directly at the sun without eye protection. Looking directly at the sun can cause severe burns and even blindness to your retinas, so make sure you get protective eyewear!

        Like your eyes, a camera may also suffer from having the light of the sun shining directly into the lens. If you’re planning on taking pictures or video when the eclipse begins, be sure to keep your camera’s lens covered until totality happens. You can protect your camera lens with the same eyewear you use to protect your own eyes—or buy a special filter for it.

        For another idea, you can film the reactions of your friends and family, while the professionals film and photograph the eclipse with their high tech equipment.

        Where can I get solar eclipse glasses in Ontario?

        This is very important: Any pair of solar eclipse glasses should be international standard ISO 12312-2, which means they are meant for looking directly at the sun for safe viewing.

        Depending on where you live, your local library near you may be handing out free pairs of glasses. The Toronto Public Library, U of T’s Library, and the Hamilton Public Library are participating in a free program, just to name a few examples. Call your local library to see if they’re also participating! That said, be prepared to have to buy your own—obviously these glasses are going to be a hot commodity!

        If you order your own, be sure to order your glasses from one of The American Astronomical Society’s approved vendors page. It is not recommended to purchase glasses from unapproved sites.

        The closer to the eclipse countdown, the higher likelihood that solar eclipse glasses will be sold out or unable to be delivered in time. Fortunately, there are other alternatives to experience the total eclipse.

        What do I do if I can’t find solar eclipse glasses for sale or at my library? What are alternatives?

        If you can’t manage to get safety glasses, You can watch online, with the NASA/Exploratorium livestream. NASA also has a how-to guide on how to make a pinhole camera. A pinhole camera is one alternative that lets you watch the solar eclipse safely and easily. With a pinhole camera, the tiny hole you make acts like a camera lens. Light enters the pinhole, is focused, and then is ‘projected’ on the paper.

        Here’s a video about how it works!

        A safe and happy eclipse viewing for all our readers. Let the countdown begin!

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