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Rusk Elementary School students receive educational background ahead of solar eclipse

(EL PASO INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT – April 5) — An El Paso woman who’s hoping to become an astronaut with NASA, is using her background and life experiences to inspire students at Rusk Elementary School. 


Tara Sweeney, a doctoral candidate at the University of Texas at El Paso, made a stop Friday, April 5, at the Central El Paso campus to talk and educate students about Monday’s total solar eclipse which will be seen across North America, including El Paso. Sweeney, who has always dreamed of becoming an astronaut since she was 10 years old, also used her time at Rusk to encourage students to follow their dreams. 


“It’s important for them to dream out loud and for them to tell all of us around them who it is they want to be,” Sweeney said. “We need to know what it is our children want, so that family, friends, and colleagues can rally around the kids and help them to achieve their dreams.” 


Using her educational experience, Sweeney also explained to the young learners why solar eclipses occur and why it’s important for students to wear protective glasses when attempting to view the astronomic phenomenon. The items and presentation were provided by UTEP Earth, Environmental and Resource Sciences Department and the National Science Foundation program in collaboration with CIELO-G. 


We do a lot of community outreach, and we are trying to bring geosciences to the community and partner with them,” said Carmel Murillo, the organizer and a student at UTEP. “I used to work at Rusk Elementary and this event is my way of giving back to everyone. 


The solar eclipse will take place Monday, April 8. Schools across El Paso ISD will have fun activities for children to learn and stay engaged during the phenomenon. Every student in the district will have a set of viewing glasses thanks to the generous donation of Buc-ee’s and the Houston Museum of Natural Science (HMNS). The Totality Over Texas program is an initiative created by Buc-ee's and will support HMNS’ mission to provide public K-12 schools in Texas with free solar eclipse viewing kits.