Upcycling for a good cause

GVSU Regional Math and Science Center to collect, donate eclipse glasses

By Jenna Fracassi | 8/31/17 1:25am

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GVL / Courtesy - Kathy Agee

Grand Valley State University’s Regional Math and Science Center (RMSC) is asking the GVSU community to donate its solar eclipse glasses for a good cause, rather than simply throw them away.

To accomplish this, the RMSC is participating in Astronomers Without Borders (AWB) and Explore Scientific’s “Eclipse Glasses Donation Program,” where glasses from around the U.S. are collected to be sent to schools in South America and Asia.  

According to AWB’s website, “the next two solar eclipses across populated areas are in 2019," one being a total solar eclipse in southern South America and the other being an annular eclipse in southeastern Asia. However, a partial eclipse will be visible in most areas of both South America and southern Asia.  

“We are going to be able to see a closer eclipse in 2024," said Kathy Agee, science program coordinator for GVSU's RMSC. "However, the material (of the glasses) will degrade before that. So, it’s not even going to be safe for you to save them for the next seven years because the plastic just doesn’t last that long.”  

Agee first found out about the campaign when she saw something on Facebook.  

“I just follow a lot of different groups on Facebook and stuff," she said. "We do math and science outreach, and that’s the purpose of our department. I had followed something that was linked to Astronomers Without Boarders, and it said, ‘Hey, here’s an opportunity, and we’re working on this.’ So, I just followed that trail and found out that (donating eclipse glasses) is something that is going on.” 

Currently, as listed by AWB, GVSU is the only collection location for solar eclipse glasses in the Grand Rapids area. Agee believed this initiative would find success at GVSU, crediting the general campus commitment to sustainability and education.  

“Our mission here at the Regional Math and Science Center (is that) we want to support teachers and students and science and math education,” Agee said.  

She hopes that donating these glasses will give children the chance to safely witness the eclipse and “better understand their world.” To further ensure these children have a safe viewing experience, AWB will examine each pair of glasses to make sure they aren't damaged or counterfeit. 

“We want the children in Asia and South America to enjoy the eclipse like so many of us were able to, but also we want their eyes to be safe,” Agee said. “And so many schools in South America and Asia don’t have the funds to afford this. We’ve got these glasses; they need them and can use them and want them, and we want to provide that service.” 

The RMSC is located in Mackinac Hall, Room C-1-120, on GVSU’s Allendale Campus. Glasses can either be mailed to the center or dropped off Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.  

The deadline for donations is listed as Friday, Sept. 15, but Agee said they won’t be sending the glasses in until the end of September. For more information on the campaign, visit www.astronomerswithoutborders.org/.

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