April 8, 2024

Sparking wonder for a total eclipse

Alexandra Hagerty ’07(right) and Chief MateEmily Bull wave to the crowd after dockingthe MercyShips vesselin Africa.

Rachael Van Schoik ’08 teamed up with the Joseph Moore Museum last fall to inspire educators to deepen their connection with the natural world ahead of the total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024. 

Van Schoik, who is the Science Action Club program manager for the California Academy of Sciences, facilitated training at the museum for 15 after-school organizations in Indiana and Ohio, including the Cope Environmental Center and Girls, Inc. of Wayne County. The training was supported by the Indiana and Ohio Afterschool networks, TechPoint Foundation for Youth, Purdue University, 4-H Youth Development and the Simons Foundation’s In the Path of Totality initiative. 

“Science Action Club uses hands-on STEM activities to help youth and educators learn how science and nature are awe-producing and encourage curiosity,” said Van Schoik. “The curriculum is focused on middle school-age youth because that’s a pivotal time when a student’s natural curiosity can be permanently sparked or squashed depending on their experience with science instruction. We want to make students feel welcome and pair them with educators who are enthusiastic about the natural world. We want them to have memorable positive experiences in science that they can take with them for the rest of their life.” 

With Richmond and Wayne County situated along the eclipse’s path of totality, Earlham’s campus will offer a rare vantage point to see the sun totally eclipsed by the moon on April 8. The astronomical phenomenon will reach the county at 3:07 p.m. and last for nearly four minutes. 

“Almost everyone has experienced an eclipse in their lifetime, and it’s always exciting,” Van Schoik said. “We want people to get outside, observe and celebrate.” 

Van Schoik has been working at the intersection of equity, learning and science since earning her degree in biology from Earlham. 

“I’m proud of the work I am doing at the California Academy of Sciences,” Van Schoik said. “My colleagues are all experts in their fields and are extremely passionate about the work they do. We are giving youth and educators access to the natural world. That’s a really powerful mechanism and tool for building a scientifically literate workforce and society.” ■

Story by Brian Zimmerman. Photo by Josh Smith.

For Good.
Spark good—
For Good.