Arkansas 4-H preparing for eclipse educational outreach
Eclipse and STEM efforts
April 8, 2022
By Rebekah Hall
U of A System Division of Agriculture
- Arkansas 4-H offering educational outreach on 2024 eclipse
- A. Vines Arkansas 4-H Center plans to host eclipse tourists
(Newsrooms — With sidebars: 04-08-2022-Ark-Eclipse-2024-Prep; 04-03-ark-what-causes-an -eclipse; With NASA file art of total eclipse: https://images.nasa.gov/details-NHQ201708210100, https://images.nasa.gov/details-AFRC2017-0233-006; map of 4-H Center https://flic.kr/p/8Cau6a )
LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas 4-H is planning a special STEM education program around the April 8, 2024, total solar eclipse whose path will cross the state.
Lori Canada, extension 4-H STEM coordinator for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said she plans to coordinate with the program staff at the C.A. Vines Arkansas 4-H Center to create a series of hands-on lessons about the eclipse for 4-H members, group leaders and agents.
“Every year we have what’s called a project portfolio, which has six lessons for agents to utilize,” Canada said. “Between now and the months before the eclipse, I will write a project portfolio that has six lessons that agents will be able to utilize that deal with the solar eclipse and what it means.”
Canada said the project portfolio can also be used to train 4-H volunteers and group leaders on eclipse lessons, allowing team leaders to then teach the material in their community areas. The Arkansas 4-H website will be updated with eclipse-related activities on the Science page, and Canada said she will refer people to their local county extension agent for more resources for the project portfolios.
Canada said she’s excited for the opportunity presented by the eclipse to highlight the STEM programming of 4-H.
“I think we can do a big push, especially in the science realm,” Canada said. “Because when you think of 4-H, a lot of times people traditionally think of it as showing animals, or sewing, and we are very much a STEM organization. We have STEM-related project areas. This programming could easily be something that makes us known for more than animal science and home economics.”
Hosting eclipse visitors
Eclipse visitors and Arkansas residents will also be able to experience the event at the C.A. Vines Arkansas 4-H Center in Little Rock.
Center Director J.J. Pitman said his facility has “tons of assets” that will appeal to eclipse tourists and Arkansans alike, including a prime viewing area in the open field on the east end of the campus. He said the center plans to develop “package deals with a family focus,” with packages that include a certain number of rooms and meals for the entire family.
The center also plans to offer hands-on learning activities “because we’re part of the university, so we’re going to make it education-based and have a special focus on that,” Pitman said.
Center program staff will lead these educational activities, such as making pinhole projectors, which allow viewers to safely watch the shadow of the eclipse’s progression through holes punched in paper, tarp or plywood.
“One thing that sets us apart from a state park or public area is that it will only be open to people who are scheduled to be here,” Pitman said. “So, for families, or a church group, or 4-H groups and corporate groups, we can provide a large and safe environment for them to show up and watch the eclipse without the fear of it being too crowded.”
Pitman said the center will offer its regular programming and activities to eclipse guests, including canoeing, fishing, a portable planetarium, and a tour of the garden that’s maintained by Master Gardeners.
“Since the eclipse is taking place in April, our garden will be started, so our Master Gardeners will have a lot of options for them to come in and take a look at,” Pitman said. “We don’t turn down an opportunity to talk about agriculture.”
Pitman said the center is hoping to have eclipse information and package booking available on its website soon.
For more resources and information about the 2024 Great North American total solar eclipse and its path across Arkansas, visit ar-eclipse.info. As April 8, 2024 draws closer, check the Arkansas 4-H Science page for educational resources and the C.A. Vines Arkansas 4-H Center website for booking information.
To learn about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit www.uaex.uada.edu. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @AR_Extension. To learn more about Division of Agriculture research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website: https://aaes.uark.edu. Follow on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch. To learn more about the Division of Agriculture, visit https://uada.edu/. Follow us on Twitter at @AgInArk.
About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.
The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
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Media contact: Rebekah Hall