Grant Spotlight: Solar Eclipse Glasses for All

Viewing a total solar eclipse is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. But viewing a total solar eclipse from your own backyard? Well, that’s a once-in-several-lifetimes opportunity.

With Indianapolis in the path of totality for the first time in more than 800 years, Eastwood Middle School 6th grade science teacher and department chair Jonathan Rugenstein knew the impact this cosmic event could have on his students. And it was an opportunity he wouldn’t let them miss.

“This experience could spark an interest in science that normal classroom experience could never capture,” he said. “ What if that led to an Eastwood student becoming an astronaut or working at NASA?”

But viewing a solar eclipse isn’t as easy as looking up. Special glasses are needed to protect your eyes while staring directly at the sun. That’s where the Foundation came in.

Thanks to our donors, the Foundation was able to provide a grant to purchase ISO-approved solar eclipse glasses for all of Eastwood Middle School. And not just the students.

“I wanted all students and staff to share this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Mr. Rugenstein. “A shared learning experience like this can lead to rich conversations between students and staff. Not just teachers, but custodians, food service workers, bus drivers, and all the other people that make Eastwood what it is. What a wonderful way to build a culture of learning.”

On April 8, 2024, as the moon began its journey across the sun, the students and staff of Eastwood Middle School donned their new solar eclipse glasses and witnessed something truly spectacular.

“It was really cool,” said Jailyn Davis, a sixth grader at Eastwood. “When the sky got darker, our street lights turned on, and then we were counting down. That’s when it happened.  We were all so amazed.”

“In a word, it was astonishing,” said Officer David Nicholson, an officer at Eastwood, who viewed the eclipse with his son Eli and wife Katelynn Haskell, a teacher of record at Eastwood (pictured left). “It was a nice moment of people coming together to experience something.”

“I thought, ‘I may never be able to see something like this again,’” said Walter Woodward, a sixth grader at Eastwood. “It was amazing how that actually happens.”

But the excitement surrounding the solar eclipse didn’t end on April 8th. When students returned to school, they brought with them a newfound curiosity of their world.

“As we processed the solar eclipse in class, students were more engaged than usual,” said Mr. Rugenstein. “Every student had an experience to share, which led to wonderful classroom discussions.”

As anyone who was in Indianapolis on April 8, 2024 will tell you, there are few things more awe-inspiring than witnessing a solar eclipse in totality. And thanks to the generous support of our donors, the students and staff of Eastwood Middle School were able to safely witness this life-changing celestial event… together. 


Looking for ways you can support Washington Township Schools? Donate today and help our foundation support programs to enhance the educational experience for our students and provide resources for MSDWT teachers and staff.