MOSS Solar Science Program
Students Experience Solar Science Firsthand
For three days in August, 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 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.
“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.”
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.”
The MOSS Solar Science Program 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. Liliana Vega is the 4-H Extension Educator for that area 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."
MOSS graduate students developed and delivered curriculum, which focused on solar science and science communication.
“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.