It’s been over a year since the 2017 total solar eclipse, but interpretive “magic” is never too late to showcase. Two audio stories about finding wonder in science through the experience of the eclipse are highlighted here. The storyteller is Kayla Bordelon, a PhD student at the University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho. Kayla produced two audio stories in connection to the science education program for youth she helped coordinate for the eclipse. She was one of presenters at the NAI ETS course last year in Spokane, WA; her session was entitled “Climate Change for Youth Audiences."
What If You Unlocked Your Own Inner Scientist?
The first podcast, titled “All In: Transformating Student Connections to the Natural World” was presented at the 2018 Student Innovation Showcase at the University of Idaho and took second place in the Graduate Creative Projects category. This piece highlights the risks and rewards of undertaking innovative science programs that have the potential to change hearts and minds.
The second podcast was published for the anniversary of the total eclipse by the award-winning independent podcast ‘Out There’, which highlights stories of transformation in the outdoors. In this story, Kayla shares her personal story. It's a story that takes the listener from the Oregon coast to a remote river in Idaho, and it explores the boundaries between "science people" and the rest of us. Are we predestined to become one type or the other, or is there more to the equation? And what do we miss out on when we give up on science? Kayla grew up thinking she didn't have a brain for science. Then, something happened that would unlock a part of her she didn't know existed. In this very intimate audio podcast, it’s impossible not to feel the power of shared wonder!
Students Experience Solar Science Firsthand
The innovative science education program that inspired these two audio stories focused on the total solar eclipse of 2017. For three days in August 2017, 34 Latino students from Nampa and Caldwell Public Housing had the opportunity to explore solar science concepts, cultural frameworks for interpreting the solar eclipse event, and science communication at the McCall Outdoor Science School (MOSS). The three-day event culminated in the total eclipse of the sun on August 21, which the students viewed from the Payette River on a rafting trip.
The purpose of the MOSS Solar Science Program was to engage students in solar science and storytelling through their experience of the total solar eclipse. It was created through a partnership between MOSS and the 4-H Youth Development Program, which works with students from Nampa and Caldwell public housing and includes Farmway Village Housing Project in Caldwell, ID.
The eclipse provided an incredible opportunity for students to experience how miraculous and mysterious science can be,” said Teresa Cavazos Cohn, a research assistant professor in the College of Natural Resources and project lead. “It is important that we reach the full diversity of students that represent Idaho communities with this kind of experience.”
Liliana Vega is the 4-H Extension Educator for Caldwell and collaborated with Cohn on this project. “All of the youth were amazed by the solar eclipse experience,” Vega said. “They were able to connect the science surrounding the wonderful phenomenon of the solar eclipse."
The students agreed that the program changed the way they think about science and the environment.
"It changed the way I view nature,” said student Armando Guerrero. “I realized the sun is just a really big star - a big giant star you can see during the day.”
“I’m going to remember it,” said student Jasmine Ortiz. “I’m going to be 90 years old and still telling everyone all about it.”
MOSS graduate students, including Kayla Bordelon, developed and delivered curriculum, which focused on solar science and science communication. There was clear evidence that something significant occurred during this program based on many testimonies provided from their experiences.
“Very few moments as an outdoor educator have I felt that I am fully carrying out my purpose of creating deep, life-altering connections between my students and the natural world,” said MOSS graduate student Kayla Bordelon. “This was one of those moments.”
The program also included guest astronomer Dr. Armando Manduca from the Mayo Clinic, and science communication specialist Francisco Guerrero-Bolano, a doctoral student from Oregon State University. “As international student coming from Latin America I saw a lot of my own childhood experiences mirrored in the kids,” said Guerrero-Bolano. “This experience was not only a beautiful reminder of the motivation for science that exists in young people, but also of how this motivation is essential to our personal development.”
This program was made possible by the NASA Idaho Space Grant Consortium, the Charlotte Martin Foundation, the Whittenberger Foundation and J.R. Simplot Foundation.
Resources - Audio files:
MOSS Solar Science Program audio file: Eclipse_Podcast_Innovation_Showcase.mp3
‘Out There’ podcast episode “Wonder”: http://www.outtherepodcast.com/episodes/2018/8/13/wonder
Related Video Reference:
MOSS Stories - “A River Ran Through It” - Where Science and Adventure Intersected Totality
(A video presentation about the program with Dr. Teresa Cohn)
For more details, contact:
Department of Natural Resources and Society
College of Natural Resources, University of Idaho