Lesson Plan

Discover the Total Solar Eclipse of 1900 in Historic Wadesboro, North Carolina: A Lightning Lesson from Teaching with Historic Places

Overall Rating

Add your review
Grade Level:
Middle School: Sixth Grade through Eighth Grade
Literacy and Language Arts,Science,Social Studies
Lesson Duration:
60 Minutes
Common Core Standards:
6-8.RH.1, 6-8.RH.2, 6-8.RH.5, 6-8.RH.6, 6-8.RH.7, 6-8.RH.8, 6-8.RH.9, 6-8.RH.10, 9-10.RH.1, 9-10.RH.2, 9-10.RH.3, 9-10.RH.4, 9-10.RH.6, 9-10.RH.10, 11-12.RH.1, 11-12.RH.2, 11-12.RH.10
Additional Standards:
Next Gen Science Standards: MS-ESS1-1: Develop and use a model of the Earth-sun-moon system to describe the cyclic patterns of lunar phases, eclipses of the sun and moon, and seasons

NCSS Standards for Social Studies Thematic Strands: II, III, V, VIII, I
Thinking Skills:
Remembering: Recalling or recognizing information ideas, and principles. Understanding: Understand the main idea of material heard, viewed, or read. Interpret or summarize the ideas in own words. Applying: Apply an abstract idea in a concrete situation to solve a problem or relate it to a prior experience. Analyzing: Break down a concept or idea into parts and show the relationships among the parts. Creating: Bring together parts (elements, compounds) of knowledge to form a whole and build relationships for NEW situations. Evaluating: Make informed judgements about the value of ideas or materials. Use standards and criteria to support opinions and views.

Essential Question

What is a “total solar eclipse”? What historic place might you study to answer this question?


Objectives for students
1. Explain what a solar eclipse is and describe ways humans experience the event
2. Identify Wadesboro, North Carolina's location on map and explain why scientists chose it as a place to study the total solar eclipse of 1900
3. Demonstrate understanding of a topic covered in an optional activity about global perspectives, eclipse physics, and civic engagement with night skies.


Time Period: Early 20th century
Topics/Themes: This lesson could be used in middle and high school units relating to topics of astronomy, geography, citizen science, and the history of modern science.


Events like a total solar eclipse have made humans tremble with curiosity, wonder, and fear for millennia. Our civilizations developed science, philosophy, and mathematics to make sense of the universe and to explore our place in it.

On May 28, 1900, a solar eclipse passed over North America. The line of totality crossed directly over the town of Wadesboro, North Carolina. Founded in 1783 by Revolutionary War patriots, the town was a major cotton producer for global markets in the 19th century. Cotton trade faded, but in the early 20th century, the totality event of 1900 transformed Wadesboro into a hotspot for science.

The era’s foremost astronomers anticipated the event and knew Wadesboro would be a prime spot to study it. Wadesboro’s location, climate, and geographical features promised scientists a clear view. Its citizens welcomed the visitors into their homes. In this STEAM lesson, discover the role historic Wadesboro played in humankind’s journey to understand our universe.

Lesson Hook/Preview

What is a “total solar eclipse”?

What historic place might you study to answer this question? Why?


  1. Getting Started Prompt
  2. Map: Orients the students and encourages them to think about how place affects culture and society
  3. Readings: Primary and secondary source readings provide content and spark critical analysis.
  4. Visual Evidence: Students critique and analyze visual evidence to tackle questions and support their own theories about the subject.
  5. Optional post-lesson activities: If time allows, these will deepen your students' engagement with the topics and themes introduced in the lesson, and to help them develop essential skills.


Total Solar Eclipse

Related Lessons or Education Materials

Find out more about this resource and download all of the lesson's materials, standards, and resources at the Teaching with Historic Places website: https://www.nps.gov/subjects/teachingwithhistoricplaces/lightning-lesson-004_wadesboro-nc-total-eclipse.htm

Contact Information

Email us about this lesson plan

Last updated: March 17, 2020