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The Eclipse Across North Carolina – Where to See It

August 17th, 2017

On Aug. 21, 2017, the Western North Carolina skies will turn a deep twilight. That’s ordinary — except, this time, you’ll see planets and stars around 2:30 p.m.

For roughly 90 minutes, you’ll see the moon nibble the sun, blocking out the mid-day light. It’s been 99 years since a total solar eclipse crossed the full contiguous United States, and the track of totality — complete lunar coverage — comes directly over North Carolina’s mountains. Other locations will experience partial coverage.

According to Amber Porter, Ph.D., a Clemson University physics and astronomy lecturer, the chances of another solar eclipse following this same path is unlikely.

“Globally, solar eclipses happen one to two times annually, so they’re not that rare,” she said. “But, it’s incredibly rare for one to come where you live — for the shadow to pass over you. They only hit the same spot on Earth once every 400 years.”

So, what will you see?

If you’re in partial coverage, the sun will dim, and you’ll see more shadows. But, it won’t be dark. Animals and plants will exhibit nocturnal behaviors — birds will roost, and flowers will close their petals. However, you’ll still see plenty of sunlight.

But, things are different in totality, Porter said. As the moon blocks the sun, a ring of beads, called Baily’s Beads, will appear. That’s sunlight peaking through the moon’s mountains, and it looks like a string of pearls.

With complete coverage, the sky will be 360 degrees of twilight. You’ll also see something you can’t see any other time — the sun’s corona. It’s only as bright as a full moon so the rest of the sun overpowers it during the day. In fact, just 1 percent of uncovered sunlight is more than 1,000 times too bright for the corona to be visible to the human eye. During totality, though, it peaks out around the moon’s edges.

Additionally, the temperature will drop, she said. For 10 minutes to 15 minutes, you’ll feel a10-degree to 25-degree dip, depending upon your location. Winds could also pick up enough to quickly move clouds across the sky.

Remember: it’s only safe to look at the sun during an eclipse if you’re in totality and the moon is completely covering the sun. At that point, you’re only seeing the corona. Otherwise, regardless of location, you must wear certified solar eclipse sunglasses.

There are several locations to view this once-in-a-lifetime event. See if one listed below is near you or check with the NC STEM Center for other eclipse events.

North Carolina State University College of Sciences
12:30pm to 4:00 pm
Location: 2 Broughton Drive; Raleigh, NC, 27695
Parking: Paid lots in Dan Allen and Coliseum Decks; metered spots on Hillsborough Street; free parking at Carter-Finley stadium off Trinity Road (free shuttles to Scott Hall stop)

Events: Event organizers have limited free solar sunglasses available, and there’s also a telescope outfitted with a filter. You can make do-it-yourself pinhole cameras, and the eclipse will also livestream on big screens. Additionally, citizen scientists will observe changes in animal behavior and the weather, as well as view physics demonstrations and a weather balloon launch.


Morehead Planetarium & Science Center
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Time: Noon to 4:30 pm
Location: 250 E. Franklin St.; Chapel Hill, NC, 27514
Parking: Metered street parking; paid lots on Rosemary Street; Eubanks Rd or Southern Village Park and Ride (free Chapel Hill transit provided on NS route to Columbia Road and Franklin Street).

Event: The eclipse will livestream from an area of totality. Attendees can participate in eclipse-themed games and activities. However, the seated planetarium show and eclipse glasses are sold out.


Sarah P. Duke Gardens
Time: Noon to 5 pm
Location: 420 Anderson St.; Durham, NC, 27708
Parking: Paid parking ($2) in the Duke Gardens lot; other street parking available.

Event: The free event includes observation stations throughout the Gardens, as well as activities for all ages. Inside the Doris Duke Center, attendees can conduct experiments, watch the total eclipse via livestream, and take part in astronomy and Earth science-related activities. Eclipse glasses will be available on a first come-first serve basis.


Asheville Museum of Science
Time: Noon to 3 pm
Location: Pack Square, 80 Court Plaza; Asheville, NC, 28801

Event: With UNC-Asheville, Asheville City Schools and Buncombe County Schools, the museum is hosting a free event with music, food, and activities. Free eclipse glasses are available on a first come-first serve basis. Those who don’t want to attend downtown can view at Owen High School, N. Buncombe High School, and TC Roberson High School.


11 am to 4 pm
Location: 400 W. Hanes Mill Rd., Winston-Salem, NC, 27105

Event: The event is free to museum members and included with non-member admission prices. The first 100 attendees receive free eclipse glasses. Throughout the day, you can see science demonstrations, planetarium shows, and use professional telescopes. Bring your own cereal box to make a solar eclipse viewer to take home.


The Eclipse at Gorges
Time: August 19 – August 21
Location: Gorges State Park; Sapphire, NC, 28774

Event: Gorges State Park is North Carolina’s only park in the totality path. This free, three-day event includes an Eclipse Party on Sunday, featuring a discussion with Sharon Becker, Regional Director of Interpretation and Educational Programming for N.C. State Parks about eclipse science and history. The park opens at 5 am on Monday. Music, food trucks, and educational activities will be available, Additionally, two locations will livestream an above-cloud video provided by NASA.


Airlie Gardens
Time: 12:30 pm to 3:30 pm
Location: 300 Airlie Rd.; Wilmington, NC, 28403

Event: Outside the eclipse path, this event still offers attendees viewing opportunities. Admission is $9 for adults, $3 for children, and $5 for New Hanover residents and military with ID. A wide variety of activities are available to learn about the eclipse, including a live weather satellite feed and opportunities to create your own solar eclipse and models that show the distance between bodies in the solar system.


By Whitney Palmer
17 August 2017

NC STEM Center e-Update (Aug. 11, 2017)

August 11th, 2017


NC STEM starts with you. Twice a month we provide an e-update on what’s happening in STEM, and our latest edition is now available for you.

View our e-Update in your browser by clicking here.

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Social recap: NC Chamber 2017 Conference on Education

August 10th, 2017

We hope you enjoy some the great social media conversations curated from this year’s #WorkReadyNC event in Durham.


NC STEM Center e-Update (July 27, 2017)

July 27th, 2017


NC STEM starts with you. Twice a month we provide an e-update on what’s happening in STEM, and our latest edition is now available for you.

View our e-Update in your browser by clicking here.

Not receiving an e-update? Click here to subscribe and get your personalized copy sent directly to your email address.

STEM Across NC: Race Exhibit at NC Museum of Natural Sciences

July 21st, 2017

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh is widely known as the place to visit if you want to learn about local and regional wildlife, marine life off our coasts, bugs in your backyard, or even the state’s pre-historic timeline.

But, from now until October 22, it’s also hosting a traveling exhibit entitled RACE: Are We So Different?, making it the spot for learning about humanity and race. What brings us together? Are race and ethnicity based in biology? And, how has it all changed over time?

Take a walk through the free exhibit on the museum’s 2nd floor, and you’ll see, in both English and Spanish, that race is rooted in cultural beliefs, and you’ll journey through how science has been applied to those beliefs over the centuries.

According to the museum’s website, RACE “looks at race through the lens of science, history, and personal experiences to promote a better understanding of human variation.”

The exhibit is part of a larger public education program, crafted by the American Anthropological Association and funded by the Ford Foundation and the National Science Foundation. It’s designed to reach students, teachers, and parents and also includes a virtual tour and online science curriculum resources for middle and high school teachers involved in STEM education. The resources include lesson plans in evolution, ecology, genetics, biodiversity, and several other topics.

There’s much for museum visitors to see in person, though. Sprinkled throughout RACE’s historical components, museum staff placed science stations — some of which are interactive — that will challenge your understanding of ethnicity. It all springs from the bedrock principle that humanity emerged in current-day Africa and populated the world over millennia. Overall, the exhibit reveals our seemingly large outward differences are linked to very small genetic variations.

By placing your hand under a microscope to determine your skin color and compare it to others’, you learn about the evolution of melanin — the pigment, responsible for tanning, that gives human skin and hair its color. The lighter your skin, the farther your ancestors ventured from the African epicenter and its intense sun. In essence, shades of skin tone are merely a factor of migration.

In addition, with the help of a touch-screen map, you can explore how genetic variations occurred and spread world-wide. If you select a geographic region, you can watch where the changes pop up over time and how long it took for the shifts to occur.

The exhibit also reveals the genetic changes that cause differences in our outward appearances aren’t significant enough to alter who we are internally — at least not at the most basic level. A segment devoted to forensics reveals it’s nearly impossible to determine someone’s race after death. Bones and teeth — the human body’s fundamentals — are virtually the same for us all, demonstrating our baseline similarities.

In support of race as a cultural construct, the exhibit also displays instances when science “got it wrong.” For example, scientists once believed the larger head size prevalent among Caucasians equated to higher intelligence. This theory is false, but you can see the instruments used to measure skull size on display. It’s evidence of a time when society sought to divide populations based on perceived racial characteristics.

The exhibit isn’t only for middle-schoolers and older, though. Museum staff also cater to the littlest visitors, making it an option for parents with younger children. Amidst the higher-level discussions of heredity, genetic evolution, and ethnicity-based healthcare, you’ll find a comfortable table and chairs scattered with books that discuss race and ethnicity in age-appropriate ways. Puppets and dolls of many races and ethnicities are also available for children interested in playing.

Additional program funding for RACE comes from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund; Duke University Center on Genomics, Race, Identity, Difference; the University of North Carolina; Triangle Community Foundation; Paul Green Foundation; NC Humanities Council; YMCA of the Triangle, and several other groups.

Tickets are reserved based on time slots, and they are available here.

By Whitney Palmer

NC STEM Center e-Update (July 13, 2017)

July 13th, 2017


NC STEM starts with you. Twice a month we provide an e-update on what’s happening in STEM, and our latest edition is now available for you.

View our e-Update in your browser by clicking here.

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NC STEM Center e-Update (June 22, 2017)

June 22nd, 2017


NC STEM starts with you. Twice a month we provide an e-update on what’s happening in STEM, and our latest edition is now available for you.

View our e-Update in your browser by clicking here.

Not receiving an e-update? Click here to subscribe and get your personalized copy sent directly to your email address.

NC STEM Center e-Update (June 8, 2017)

June 8th, 2017


NC STEM starts with you. Twice a month we provide an e-update on what’s happening in STEM, and our latest edition is now available for you.

View our e-Update in your browser by clicking here.

Not receiving an e-update? Click here to subscribe and get your personalized copy sent directly to your email address.

Three NC Schools named STEM Schools of Distinction

June 6th, 2017


The North Carolina State Board of Education yesterday recognized three public schools for exemplary leadership and instruction in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education. These schools are the latest to be recognized under the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction’s (NCDPI) STEM Recognition Program.

STEM Schools of Distinction for the 2016-17 school year are:

You also can view previous year’s STEM Schools of Distinction.

The STEM Recognition Program was developed by NCDPI with representatives from schools, business and industry, and postsecondary institutions to identify and recognize exemplary STEM schools and STEM programs. The application process rubric is built around NCDPI’s STEM Attributes, which describe characteristics of a high quality STEM school.

Schools were recognized as meeting the Prepared or Model Level of Achievement. Regardless of the status, schools exemplify outstanding leadership and learning, which empower keen creative thinking, reasoning and teamwork – the underpinnings of 21st century skills. Schools recognized under the Model Level of Achievement go even further by systemically interweaving science, technology, engineering and mathematics into complementary coursework in the arts, career and technical education, English language arts, healthful living and world history.

Overall, 11 applications were submitted for possible recognition.

To receive this honor, schools designated as STEM Schools of Distinction are rooted in a culture where creativity and inquiry exists between and among students, teachers, administrators and community members with an emphasis on engaging students in a way of innovation and problem solving to seek solutions, and collaborative teamwork. Additionally, schools have established a network of community relationships and strategies that foster purposeful connections between student studies and the world outside their classroom. In all, schools approach education with intentionality to engage and inspire students through learning experiences that are real, relevant and balanced whereby all content areas are equally responsive to cultivating growth and success.

In addition to being honored by the State Board of Education, the schools will be recognized on NCDPI’s STEM web page and the NC STEM Center portal. Schools also will receive a specially designed STEM School of Distinction banner provided by the North Carolina SMT Center.

Kenan Fellows symposium heads to Eastern NC

May 26th, 2017


Kenan Fellows symposium heads to Eastern NC Kenan Fellows will host its inaugural North Carolina Teacher Leadership Symposium in Eastern North Carolina on Aug. 1 in Greenville.

Registration is open to K-12 educators in Beaufort, Bertie, Camden, Carteret, Chowan, Craven, Currituck, Dare, Edgecombe, Gates, Greene, Halifax, Hertford, Hyde, Jones, Lenoir, Martin, Nash, Northampton, Onslow, Pamlico, Perquimans, Pasquotank, Pitt, Tyrrell, Washington, and Wilson school districts.

The symposium will be exclusively offered to K-12 educators in this region but in years to come will move around the state and feature teachers at various levels.

The event will be hosted at the Hilton Greenville from 9 a.m. through 4:30 p.m. and includes lunch, a networking reception, concurrent PD sessions, and keynote speakers. Educators in the Kenan Fellows Alumni Network will lead the one-day symposium with sessions on project-based learning, technology integration, interdisciplinary instruction, building leadership capacity, inquiry- based instruction, developing successful grant proposals, and more.

This year’s symposium is sponsored by the Biogen Foundation, who has made it possible for Kenan Fellows to provide the event at no cost.

Registration closes July 24.

NC STEM Learning Network e-Update (May 18, 2017)

May 18th, 2017


NC STEM starts with you. Twice a month we provide an e-update on what’s happening in STEM, and our latest edition is now available for you.

View our e-Update in your browser by clicking here.

Not receiving an e-update? Click here to subscribe and get your personalized copy sent directly to your email address.

Learn about STEM outreach in June at STEM Industry Summit

May 11th, 2017

STEM Industry Summit is planned for Friday June 9, from 9 a.m. to noon at The Frontier in RTP.

Register here.

This is an event to convene employees from STEM companies around the Triangle who want to learn more about STEM outreach in the Triangle and how to do it more effectively and efficiently.

Summit includes a panel discussion on current STEM education statistics and outreach practices at current companies. Workshops are broken down into outreach skill level and outreach type with a Speed Meet networking session. Event ticket includes $5 coupon for the Fidelity Food Truck Rodeo on June 9.

Come out and learn more about STEM outreach and network with local companies who are successful in their outreach efforts. For questions, please email Sarah Windsor at

US2020 RTP is the organizer of this event and serves as part of a national movement to connect underrepresented minorities, girls and low-income students with industry partners working in STEM fields. US2020 RTP is focused on bringing people together to create sustained, high impact STEM engagement for K-12 and undergraduate students in Durham and Wake counties.

NC STEM Learning Network e-Update (May 4, 2017)

May 4th, 2017


NC STEM starts with you. Twice a month we provide an e-update on what’s happening in STEM, and our latest edition is now available for you.

View our e-Update in your browser by clicking here.

Not receiving an e-update? Click here to subscribe and get your personalized copy sent directly to your email address.

2017 SMT Center Award Recap

May 1st, 2017

Slide01“Tonight we are gathered to honor some of the best in the state. All of the people being honored are examples of what can be achieved with hard work, creative thinking, and the right kind of support. We hope that tonight’s event will inspire everyone to do even more to make science, technology, engineering and math education in North Carolina the very best it can be.”

These remarks by SMT Center CEO and President Dr. Sam Houston began the 10th anniversary of the annual SMT Celebration, a showcase event that highlights the achievements of individuals and organizations from the past year. A crowd of 450 people enjoyed a reception and dinner at the Hilton North Raleigh on April 29, 2017.

In addition to recognizing STEM-award winning students and teachers across North Carolina, the SMT Center also highlighted its own awardees through video presentations.

This year’s award recipients were:

  • Business & Industry Award | FRC East
  • Champion Award | Al Childers
  • Outstanding K-8 Educator | Sherry Coren, Hendersonville Elementary
  • Outstanding 9-16 Educator | Erin Lawrence, Apex Friendship High School
  • Outstanding Administrator | Tisha Greene, Oakhurst STEAM Academy
  • Outstanding Informal Educator | Jonathan Frederick, North Carolina Science Festival
  • Partnership Award | ROCAME
  • Student Leadership Award | Shiaoching Tse, The Food Ark

The videos can be streamed through the SMT Center’s YouTube channel.

Our friends at EdNC did a wonderful job capturing the event through Storify.

Please consider nominees for next year’s SMT Awards, information is on our website and the deadline will be on Dec. 5, 2017.

SMT Center Announces 2017 Award Recipients

April 27th, 2017

SMT AwardsRESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – The North Carolina Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education (SMT) Center is pleased to announce this year’s recipients of the annual SMT Awards. They will be honored at the SMT Celebration event on April 29 in Raleigh, N.C.

The 2017 SMT Award recipients are:

Business & Industry Award | FRC East

  • For developing regional collaborative programs in STEM education to support project-based learning with a focus on aerospace engineering in eastern N.C.
  • For sponsoring a mobile fabrications laboratory for students and educators use

Champion Award | Al Childers

  • For promoting active engagement by young people in STEM activities; provides new and enhanced opportunities for young people to experience STEM activities
  • For helping to spark the interest of young people in STEM activities; Builds upon STEM experiences of young people in formal education settings.

Outstanding K-8 Educator | Sherry Coren, Hendersonville Elementary

  • For being a leader in STEM lessons and project based learning
  • For delivering standards by making real world connections

Outstanding 9-16 Educator | Erin Lawrence, Apex Friendship High School

  • For creating an authentic learning environment in her classroom
  • For fostering collaborative team projects across disciplines in STEM education

Outstanding Administrator | Tisha Greene, Oakhurst STEAM Academy

  • For integrating STEAM concepts (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) and initiatives into the students’ entire school day and extracurricular activities
  • For aligning professional development opportunities for teachers

Outstanding Informal Educator | Jonathan Frederick, North Carolina Science Festival

  • For his work with the North Carolina Science Festival, the first statewide festival of its kind in the nation
  • For highlighting the educational, cultural, and financial impact of science in our state through the Fesitval
  • For providing hands on activities, lab tours, nature experiences, exhibits, and performances to a wide range of the public

Partnership Award | ROCAME

  • For being instrumental in the diversification of the STEM pipeline by encouraging minority students to explore STEM fields
  • Providing students in southeastern North Carolina the opportunity to engage in STEM competitions, receive mentorship from minority engineers, and earn scholarships for higher education.

Student Leadership Award | Shiaoching Tse, The Food Ark

  • For creating a club as a freshman at Enloe High School called The Food Ark (TFA) as a response to the food insecurity she saw at her school
  • Evolving TFA into a 501c3 nonprofit that fights food insecurity by chartering clubs at schools, and by working with the community on partnerships and projects. Today, TFA involves more than 400 active student members across 6 chartered clubs.

The SMT Celebration is a yearly event that began in 2006 to celebrate the success of what is now known as STEM education across the state of North Carolina. The SMT Celebration recognizes participation in various STEM fairs and competitions from the past year.

“North Carolina has a rich tapestry of STEM education throughout the state,” said Dr. Sam Houston, president and CEO of the SMT Center. “We want to shine a spotlight on those who make this state a role model in STEM education for the country”

The SMT Center was founding in 2002 by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund to support North Carolina effort in what is now known as STEM or STEAM education. To clarify the acronym issue, the SMT Center refers to STEM as Strategies that Engage Minds™, as a method of engaging students in 21st Century learning skills.


Contact – Lisa Rhoades at for more information.