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University of Hartford Professor and Students Use the Solar Eclipse to Inspire a New Generation of Scientists


Posted 08/21/2017
Posted by Rose Brodeur


Adrienne Fischer ’19 (pictured left) and Erin Sussmann ’20 (pictured right) help children decorate a pinhole viewing projector.

Adrienne Fischer ’19 (pictured left) and Erin Sussmann ’20 (pictured right) help children decorate a pinhole viewing projector.

Visitors to the Connecticut Science Center in Hartford, Conn. track UHart’s balloon launch through the CT Space Grant Consortium’s Twitter page.

Visitors to the Connecticut Science Center in Hartford, Conn. track UHart’s balloon launch through the CT Space Grant Consortium’s Twitter page.

As the total solar eclipse of 2017 made its way across the United States, a University professor and two engineering students worked with hundreds of young visitors at the Connecticut Science Center to make sure they’d never forget the day.

Electrical engineering and computer science double major Erin Sussmann ‘20 and physical therapy major Adrienne Fischer ’19 showed children a sun and moon relativity activity done with Oreo cookies and helped them create a pinhole viewing projector. “The pinhole filter means simply poking a hole in a paper plate that visitors have decorated,” said Erin. Adrienne added, “The hole lets the sun shine through and cast a shadow on the ground, but it’s not to be used to look through toward the sun.”  The Oreos were helpful in showing children the relative sizes of the sun and moon. (The sun is about 400 times larger than the moon.)

Young people and their families were also able to watch a live stream of the NASA Connecticut Space Grant Consortium (CTSGC) team’s launch in Paducah, Kentucky of an eight-foot tall weather balloon. UHart students and professors are part of the team along with University of Bridgeport students and faculty. You can read more about their eclipse project here. The balloon ascended to an altitude of nearly 90,000 feet carrying a video camera that transmitted a live feed to NASA. (Watch for a story about their day later this week.)

At the Science Center, Cater Arico, Assistant Professor of civil and biomedical engineering and Associate Director of CTSGC said, “The next total solar eclipse visible in the United States will be on April 8, 2024, traveling a diagonal path crossing from Texas to Maine.” It’s possible some of today’s young scientists will be studying science at UHart by then!

Adrienne Fischer ’19 (pictured left) and Erin Sussmann ’20 (pictured right) help children decorate a pinhole viewing projector.

Adrienne Fischer ’19 (pictured left) and Erin Sussmann ’20 (pictured right) help children decorate a pinhole viewing projector.

Visitors to the Connecticut Science Center in Hartford, Conn. track UHart’s balloon launch through the CT Space Grant Consortium’s Twitter page.

Visitors to the Connecticut Science Center in Hartford, Conn. track UHart’s balloon launch through the CT Space Grant Consortium’s Twitter page.