The solar eclipse Monday is inspiring science and outdoor curriculum, community engagement and a unique take on a project for an Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School senior.

The passage of the moon between Earth and sun gave Ghost Pereno the opportunity to incorporate a love for outer space into a senior project by organizing a viewing party Monday on the back practice field of the school on Main Street in Paris.

“It will take place from 2-4 p.m.,” Pereno said. “I’ll have informational pamphlets and eclipse glasses out, along with a few photo filters for people to observe and photograph/video. I’m asking them to send their images to me to share on an Instagram page I’m making for it, oxfordhills_eclipse.”

The filters make it possible to shoot the eclipse with a phone by blocking out 99% of the sunlight, similar to how the glasses work.

“I am really into astronomy,” Pereno said. “I love astronomy, and space in general.”

“I want my senior project to be something that people will remember in the future,” Pereno said. “I want it to be special, to share something unique.”

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Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School senior Ghost Pereno shares theories on black holes in October 2023 with Tom Whitman from the Class of 1981 at the school in Paris. Pereno is designing her senior project around Monday’s total solar eclipse. Nicole Carter / Advertiser Democrat

As part of the research, Pereno was able to interview Shawn Laatsch, an astronomer at University of Maine Orono who travels the world to observe eclipses.

“He talks about this specific type of eclipse is a whole body experience — both individually and also a universal. He talks about how the animals will go silent and you can hear the wind more. Everything kind of goes dark. I find it really intriguing.”

West Paris Library

In West Paris, library Director Brenda Lynn Gould is hosting a gathering there before, during and after the eclipse. She has distributed hundreds of pairs of eclipse glasses to individuals and other libraries. The schedule is:

• Noon to 6 p.m., livestream an educational video from NASA, including coverage of the eclipse as it moves across Mexico the United States and Canada at plus.nasa.gov. It will be shown on a large screen in the library and livestreamed from the library’s Facebook page.

• Noon to 2 p.m., make projector/pinhole projectors for safe viewing.

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• 2:15-4:45 p.m., view the eclipse outdoors with pinhole projectors, colanders and eclipse glasses.

Brenda Lynn Gould, director of the West Paris Library, has distributed hundreds of pairs of eclipse glasses for people to view Monday’s event. Nicole Carter/Advertiser Democrat

Gould expects to have few if any eclipse glasses on hand by Monday so participants should bring their own. Any available will be first come/first served.

Complimentary snacks and cocoa will be provided.

“The last total solar eclipse in Maine was July 20, 1963,” Gould said. “I was 4 years old and my hometown of Dixmont was in the path of totality. I have fond family memories of both my parents hovering over me, guiding me as we used green welding glass and pinhole projectors to view the eclipse.”

Roberts Farm, Norway

Western Foothills Land Trust will host a viewing party at its property at 64 Roberts Road off Route 118. Coordinating with the nonprofit is Sarah Kearsley, Oxford Hills School District’s experiential science, technology, engineering and mathematics teacher for educational programming at Roberts Farm. She has developed a digital eclipse guide for other district teachers to use in classrooms and provided instructions for pinhole projectors for denizens of the Norway Memorial Library.

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“I’m also participating in a NASA community science project called Eclipse Soundscapes,” she said. “It records audio before, during and after the eclipse, tracking the sounds of animals and insects to try to capture and understand any changes in behavior.

“I’ll have this set up on site at Roberts Farm during the viewing party,” she said.

Oxford Elementary School

Oxford Elementary School sixth graders learn about solar eclipses from Sarah Timm, Oxford Hills School District outdoor education coordinator. From left are Charlee Lizotte, Emma Marston, Domonic Wilson, Bennett Hill and Emily Desjardins. Submitted photo

Sarah Timm, Oxford Hills School District outdoor education coordinator, has been taking sixth grade students outside four days a week for science classes.

“We’ve been modeling the solar system and specifically what happens during a solar eclipse,” she said. “With their teacher, they’re researching the eclipse and putting together a project to teach younger students about what to expect and why it’s happening.”

Timm said the last time she participated in an eclipse project was as a third grader at Harrison Elementary School.

“These kids are learning that there are amazing things to observe outside, both tiny and common, and monumental, like the first solar eclipse in more than 60 years,” Timm said. “There is a lot of excitement as well as trepidation!”

 

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