Solar Eclipse Activities 2017

We are excited about this year’s Solar Eclipse, and we think it’s a great opportunity for teachers!  This is the first Solar Eclipse in the contiguous United States since 1979, so it’s a unique learning opportunity.   To help you incorporate the event in your classroom, we’ve gathered fantastic resources from the PTRA community for student learning activities.  Let us know how they work in your class by tagging us on social media (@aapt_ptra) and using the hashtag #ptraeclipse

Pics from the AAPT Solar Fest July 2017

Data from Solar Eclipse.  Taken at Knob Noster, MO by KJ Matsler

ExportedData taken with wireless PASCO light and temperature sensors

Data taken from LabQuest 2, UVA, UVB, Pyranometer, and temperature probes to be posted as soon as I figure out how to get word press to accept cmbl files.  If you need them individually, email us.




Penny Melter – Melt a penny by focusing the sun’s light rays

CAUTION: be sure you are wearing solar glasses when using this to melt metal and anyone nearby needs to have them too.  Adjusting the lens can cause severe burns.  These lenses are used to start campfires, respect their ability to focus the sun’s rays.



Solar Oven – Use the sun’s rays to cook lunch



Measuring the Temperature of the Sun , Measuring the Surface Temperature of the Sun lab.pptx





Tracking the Suns Daily Motion












Build Solar Houses, measure differences in temperature of insulated vs. noninsulated





Page Keeley Probe on Eclipse – Moon Phase and Solar Eclipse

Build your own Telescope – PVC Telescope







Build a Solar Viewing Funnel – Instructions

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Heliophysics YouTube Channel




Featured Photo Copyright: oorka / 123RF Stock Photo






Baltimore Bootcamp

From Seed to Tree, How Can That Be? John Hopkins University hosted a bootcamp for teachers and leaders of Baltimore ISD June 19-23 to learn about STEM, best practices, inquiry, and techniques to be successful in working with adults.

Texas AAPT

PTRAs Kenric Davies, Janie Head, Trina Cannon, Bill Franklin, and Karen Jo Matsler provided 5 one hour workshops for members of the TS AAPT at the spring 2017 meeting in San Antonio.  The workshops were well attended and some equipment was distributed to participants courtesy of the AAPT Bauder Fund.

PTRA 2016

The summer 2016 leadership institute was held at the PASCO headquarters. The focus was on NGSS implementation and engineering applications in the classroom.

Central PA

Central Pennsylvania AAPT Section provides workshops to their local members several times a year.  On April 8 the workshop focused on Rockets and Engineering Design.

West Georgia

FullSizeRender(1)The University of West Georgia has set a high bar when it come to effective professional development for elementary and middle school teachers.  There are so many wanting to go that they have increased the number of attendees each year and there is still a waiting list.


PTRA has been listed as a promising program in the STEMWorks Change the Equation Program.  Check it out…

Quantum Experts

Well, maybe not experts, but four PTRAs know more now than they did before they went to the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Canada in July.  A week of learning about quantum physics made us realize how much we did not know and how much scientists still have to learn.  CERN is next on my bucket list!

SMITE 2014 Univ. W. Georgia

The University of West Georgia Physics Department hosted 90 teachers in grades 3-12 at a STEM institute June 9-20, 2014.   For more pictures go to the workshop page or #physicsfun2014
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Physics Day at the Water Park

Physics students at Kennedale and Mansfield High Schools studied energy, momentum, and Newton’s Laws at a waterpark, Hawaiian Falls (Mansfield, TX) on May 28, 2014.  Michael Strange, a physics teacher at Kennedale HS, was looking for a different venue to determine if the students really learned what they had been taught during the year.  What a cool way to assess learning!! Students used their iOS devices to read QR codes and take data.  The QR codes gave students some background information for each ride as well as problems they were to solve and data they were to collect.  The QR codes also had quiz questions they were to discuss and be able to solve after they worked through the calculations from their experience. The event was sponsored by UTeach, UTA Science Dept, and local businesses.  NBC News covered the event