Free online games teach students about the upcoming solar eclipse


As the 2017 Great American Total Solar Eclipse approaches, middle school students now have another tool to beef up their knowledge on eclipses and solar science: games.

Legends of Learning, a startup that creates curriculum-based games for middle school science students, announced Monday that its two most popular eclipse-related games will be available to play free of charge through August.

The game-maker is also teaming up with the Cobb County School District in Georgia to take students to Clemson, South Carolina, to watch the eclipse in person as a way to build interest with teachers to incorporate the games into their instruction prior to the eclipse.

The games, “Bubble Eclipse” and “Walter’s Travels,” join four others available as free-to-play “sample games” on the Legends of Learning website, which hosts over 900 games involving earth and space, life science and physical science.

Geoff Livingston, Legends of Learning chief marketing officer and executive vice president, said the company regularly changes the sample games and wanted to be of service to students in light of the upcoming historic event.

“We thought to ourselves … this is a huge, huge science moment … and to not be mindful of that and offer two solar eclipse games on that site with this coming up, we just thought it would be irresponsible,” Livingston said.

“This is so exciting! Our students will remember this experience for the rest of their lives,” Sally Creel, STEM and innovation supervisor for Cobb County Schools, said in a statement. “Our teachers will be incorporating the games into their instruction prior to the eclipse. Students will understand that, yes, it will be dark during the eclipse and what scientific phenomena are causing the darkness.”

“Bubble Eclipse” kicks off with a short animated introduction to orbits and seasons. The following multi-level matching and bubble-popping game is interwoven with eclipse and season trivia and pop-up facts. Students who answer trivia questions correctly get a special bubble-popping bonus.

“Walter’s Travels” features an astronomically-inclined wolf character named Walter who provides facts about the solar system and eclipses and guides students through activities like putting the planets in order and aligning the earth, moon and sun properly for a solar or lunar eclipse.

The actual solar eclipse will cross the continental United States from coast to coast on Aug. 21 — the first to do so in almost 100 years.

While total solar eclipses can be visible every 1.5 years on average, it is rare for an eclipse’s path to reach over the entire continental United States. This will not happen again until 2045. The best views will be available in the eclipse’s direct path, which will cross over parts of Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Missouri, Tennesse, and South Carolina. Edges of Kansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Georgia and North Carolina are also on the eclipse path.

Teachers can find additional links to other companies’ eclipse-related materials and a public solar eclipse lesson plan under the Legends of Learning’s Earth and Space Sciences “Eclipses and Seasons” learning objective.

Legends of Learning was founded in 2016 and developed based on research conducted with Vanderbilt University.