Image of an eclipse with a party hat on (All Images)

The Eclipse Party Disaster

Will the Science Club’s new member ruin the big day? 

By Spencer Kayden
From the March/April 2024 Issue

Learning Objective: Students will read a realistic fiction play about a boy who struggles to accept a new kid in Science Club as they plan to view the 2024 total solar eclipse. As students read, they will also learn facts about the 2024 total solar eclipse and how to view it safely.

Other Key Skills: fluency, vocabulary, character, comparing characters, key detail, problem and solution, text features, making connections, how a character changes, theme, author’s craft, explanatory writing
Topics: SEL, Science,
UP CLOSE: Knowledge Building

As you read, look for information in the play and text features about eclipses and how to view one.

Scene 1

An elementary school near Dallas, Texas, 10 days before the eclipse

N1: Sam is walking quickly across the yard. Sophie, Emilio, and Cade catch up. 

Sophie: Slow down, Sam! 

Sam: I don’t want to be late for Science Club.

Emilio: We’re never late.

Sam: But we’re planning the eclipse party today! 

Cade: They won’t do anything without us . . . especially not without you, Sam.

Sophie (laughing): Nobody loves science as much as you do.

Sam: Well, it’s the first time a total solar eclipse will cross the U.S. since 2017. You don’t see the moon totally block the sun every day. It’s going to be amazing!

N2: Prisha, a new kid at the school, approaches them.

Prisha: Hey, did you say Science Club? Can I come with you? 

Sam (surprised): But you’re not in Science Club. 

Prisha: I just moved here. I’m Prisha.

Sophie: Hi, I’m Sophie. And this is Sam, Emilio, and Cade. 

Prisha: I tried to join Theater Club, but it was full. So I guess I’ll do Science Club instead.

Sam: But . . . do you even like science?

Prisha (shrugging): I just want to join something—it might as well be Science Club.

Emilio: We can use the extra help for the eclipse party. 

Prisha: Ohhh fun! Will there be dancing? 

Sam (mumbling): It’s an eclipse party . . . 

Scene 2

Mr. Perez’s classroom, shortly after

N3: The kids enter the science classroom.

N1: Prisha notices a tank in the corner with a lizard inside. 

Prisha: Is that a bearded dragon? I love them!

Sophie: That’s Cosmo, our class pet. 

Prisha (speaking to Cosmo): Hi, Cosmo. How are you? 

N2: Prisha answers herself in a deep voice.

Prisha (as Cosmo): I’m draggin’ a bit today, Prisha! 

N3: The other kids start laughing.

N1: The science teacher, Mr. Perez, sees Prisha.

Mr. Perez: Welcome, Prisha! Have you ever seen a total solar eclipse before? 

Prisha: No. 

Mr. Perez: There will be one in 10 days, on April 8. Who can tell Prisha what will happen?  

Sam (excitedly): Starting at 12:23 p.m., the moon will pass between the sun and Earth and completely block the face of the sun—

Prisha: Talk about sun block!

Sam (confused): What? 

Prisha: Sorry. It was a joke.

Emilio: We’re lucky that Dallas is in the path of totality, which means we’ll get to see the sun fully covered. 

Cade: The sky will get as dark as dusk.

Sam: It’ll be the coolest thing ever! 

Mr. Perez: Let’s discuss how we’ll watch the eclipse. Stores are already sold out of the special viewing glasses.

Prisha: Why do we need special glasses?

Sophie: The sun’s rays are so bright that even the smallest sliver of light can burn your eyes. 

Prisha (laughing): Yikes! That . . . does not sound good.

Sam: It’s not funny. We need a way to safely watch the eclipse . . . and there’s not going to be another one crossing the U.S. until 2045!

Mr. Perez: OK, kids, settle down. Sam, do you want to tell us about your idea?

Sam: Since stores are out of eclipse glasses, we can make eclipse viewers! My mom will teach us how at Science Club next week.

Mr. Perez: We’re so lucky that Sam’s mother works for NASA, the U.S. space agency. 

Sam: All we need is a shoebox, foil, tape, paper, scissors, and pins. 

Mr. Perez: We’ll be raising money for the supplies with our Eclipse Bake Sale tomorrow. 

Prisha: Fun! I can bake something.

Mr. Perez: Remember: All treats should be eclipse related.

Jim McMahon/Mapman ®

Where the Total Eclipse Will Be Visible

Scene 3

A sidewalk in town, the next morning

N2: The kids are setting up a table for the Eclipse Bake Sale. 

Emilio: I brought blackout cake. What about you? 

Sophie: I made moon rocks. They’re dark chocolate cookie-dough bites dusted in sugar. 

Sam (proudly): I stayed up late baking these black-and-white cookies, like the moon blocking the sun.

Cade: They look amazing! 

N3: Prisha arrives, carrying a box filled with brightly decorated cake pops. 

Prisha: My dad and I baked planet pops. The blue ones are Neptune. The red ones are Mars. 

Sophie: You even got a ring around Saturn!

Sam: Well, they don’t have anything to do with the eclipse . . . but I guess we can still sell them. 

Emilio: It’s OK, Sam. They’re about space. 

Cade: As long as we raise money for the eclipse viewers, right? 

N1: Kids start gathering around the table. 

Kid 1: Ohhh, which ones should we get? 

N2: Another kid points to the planet pops. 

Kid 2: Those look yummy! We’ll have two please. 

N3: Prisha grins as she hands them the pops and takes their money. 

N1: More people arrive and buy goodies. 

Sophie: Wow, Prisha. Your planet pops are a big hit.

Prisha: Your moon rocks are rockin’ too!

N2: Sam looks glumly at his full tray of cookies. 

ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images

Staying Safe 

Looking at even a tiny bit of direct sunlight can quickly damage your eyes. Luckily, scientists have created special glasses to safely view an eclipse.

Scene 4

Mr. Perez’s classroom, 3 days before the eclipse 

N3: The kids are clustered around Prisha. She is holding Cosmo the lizard. 

Prisha: Do you know what Cosmo’s favorite movie is? The Lizard of Oz.

N1: Sam and his mom enter to hear everyone laughing. 

Mr. Perez: Friends, we have a special guest today. Sam’s mother, Dr. Morgan, is here to help us make eclipse viewers. 

Dr. Morgan: Hi, everyone. Let’s talk about safety first. On eclipse day, the moon will slowly cover the sun. When the sun is fully blocked, it’s safe to look up at the sky. But before and after, we need special glasses or viewers so the sun’s light won’t damage our eyes.

Prisha: Mr. Perez, you better not let us outside during the eclipse. 

Mr. Perez: Why not? 

Prisha: Because you need to protect your pupils. 

N2: A few kids chuckle. 

Prisha: Get it? We’re your pupils!

Dr. Morgan: That’s funny! But let me show you how to protect your eyes. Let’s build viewers out of shoeboxes.

N3: For the rest of Science Club, the kids build the eclipse viewers. 

Mr. Perez: Great job, everyone! And let’s thank Dr. Morgan. 

All Students: Thanks, Dr. Morgan!

Mr. Perez: Kids, remember: On eclipse day, we’ll meet here at 11 a.m. to gather our viewers and then head to the soccer field together.

Sam (thrilled): It’ll be perfect!

Gokhan Balci/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Staying Safe

You can also make an eclipse viewer out of a box like Sam and his friends in the play!

Scene 5

Mr. Perez’s classroom, eclipse day, 11 a.m.

N1: It’s April 8—eclipse day.

N2: Kids are gathering in Mr. Perez’s classroom.

N3: Excitement fills the air.

Mr. Perez: All right, kids, let’s take our eclipse viewers outside. They’re on that folding table by Cosmo’s tank. 

N1: Prisha, Sam, and the others approach the table.

Prisha: Aww, look, Cosmo wants to see them.

N2: Prisha takes Cosmo out of the tank.

Sam: Prisha, be careful.

N3: Prisha leans over the table with Cosmo in her arms.

Prisha (speaking as Cosmo): Where’s my viewer box? 

N1: The kids start laughing. 

Sam: Watch out!

N2: Suddenly, Cosmo squirms in Prisha’s arms, causing Prisha to bump the table. 

N3: The eclipse viewers spill onto the floor, and the table tips over and crushes them. 

Sam: Ahhhhh!  

Prisha: Oh no! 

Sam: Our eclipse viewers! Of course, you ruined them!

Prisha: I’m sorry . . .

Sam: You’re always joking around! Do you even care about science? 

N1: Prisha’s eyes fill with tears. She runs from the room.  

Mr. Perez: Sam, it was an accident. Sophie, can you check on Prisha?

Sam: But what are we going to do? Our viewers are wrecked and the eclipse starts in an hour! 

N2: Sophie returns to the classroom, worried. 

Sophie: I can’t find her. 

Scene 6

The school hallway, a short while later

N3: Sam, Sophie, Emilio, and Cade are walking around the school, looking for Prisha.

Sam: We were supposed to have the best eclipse party ever . . . until Prisha came along.

Emilio: She didn’t mean to ruin things.

Sam: She only cares about making people laugh! She should never have joined Science Club.

Sophie: But she’s new. She wanted to make friends.

N1: Sam kicks at the floor, frowning.

Sam: We have no way to watch the eclipse now.

Cade: Yeah . . . but you’re being harder on her than you’d be on us if we’d done the same thing.

N2: Sam is quiet.

Sophie: Why are you so mad at Prisha?

Sam: Because! I’ve been looking forward to the eclipse forever, and she’s just goofing off to get everyone’s attention. It’s like . . . it’s like she’s trying to eclipse me.

N3: Cade puts a hand on Sam’s shoulder. 

Cade: I’m sure she feels really bad about what happened.

Sam (sighing): You’re right. I shouldn’t have yelled. 

Emilio: Where is Prisha?

Sam: I think I know where to find her.

Scene 7

The school’s auditorium, a few minutes later

N1: Sam finds Prisha sitting alone behind the stage curtain. She’s crying.

Sam: Prisha, I’m sorry I yelled at you. 

Prisha (surprised): How did you know I’d be here?

Sam: You said you wanted to join Theater Club. And we all know how much you love entertaining people. You’re really good at it.

N2: Prisha is silent.

Sam: Science Club isn’t the same without you. Please come back. 

Prisha: But I ruined everything. Now we can’t watch the eclipse.

Sam: There must be a store that still has some eclipse glasses. 

N3: Prisha shakes her head. 

Prisha: Mr. Perez said they’re all out.

Sam: Then there’s only one thing to do. And we have no time to waste!

Scene 8

Mr. Perez’s classroom, a while later

N1: Sam and Prisha burst into the classroom.

N2: They’re holding three shoeboxes.

Mr. Perez: Sam, Prisha, are you OK?

Sam: We found these shoeboxes backstage with the theater costumes. We can make new eclipse viewers!

Sophie: Is there enough time?

Prisha: Even if we make only one or two, it’ll be OK. 

Sam: We can take turns watching. That’s what friends do.

Emilio: Here are the leftover supplies from last week.

Cade: Let’s get to work!

Scene 9

The soccer field, 12:20 p.m.

N3: With only a few minutes until the eclipse begins, the kids rush outside.

Prisha: Just in time! 

Sam: The eclipse is starting!

N1: The kids stand side by side. 

N2: They take turns using the viewers to observe the sun slowly being eclipsed by the moon.

N3: Bit by bit, the sky gets darker and darker.  

Cade: Totality is happening!

Mr. Perez: Now it’s safe to look at the sky.

N1: A hush falls over them as they gaze up.

N2: The moon completely covers the sun. Just the sun’s wispy edges show. 

N3: The birds go quiet. It feels like time is slowing to a halt.

N1: No one speaks for a while, mesmerized by the view.

Sam: Hey, Prisha. What’s an astronaut’s favorite bagel?  

Prisha: I don’t know. What? 

Sam: Cinna-moon raisin. 

N2: Everybody cracks up. 

Prisha: Good one, Sam! 

Write to Win

Using facts from the play and text features, write a detailed plan for kids to view the solar eclipse with friends or family. Entries must be submitted to “Eclipse Contest” by a teacher, parent, or legal guardian.* Five winners will receive a $20 gift card for the Scholastic Store Online.

*Entries must be written by a student in grades 2-8 and submitted by their teacher, parent, or legal guardian, who will be the entrant and must be a legal resident of the U.S. age 18 or older. Visit the Storyworks Contests page for more information.

This play was originally published in the March/April 2024 issue. 

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Step-by-Step Lesson Plan

Table of Contents

1. Preparing to Read

Build Background, Preview Vocabulary, and Set a Purpose for Reading


  • Build background knowledge with our video “What You Need to Know About Solar Eclipses.”
  • Invite students to look at the image on page 22. Ask them to describe what they see in it. Then read the title and ask students to predict what the play will be about.
  • Preview challenging vocabulary from the play with our Vocabulary Slideshow or Skill Builder. Highlighted terms: eclipse, dusk. glumly, mesmerized, path of totality, pupils.
  • Call on a volunteer to read the Up Close box on page 22.

2. Reading the Play

  • Assign parts and read the play aloud as a class or in small groups. Students can also listen to our Author Read-Aloud of the play as a first read. Note that larger speaking roles are marked with an asterisk in the character box on page 23; the smaller roles can be a good fit for students who feel less comfortable reading aloud in class.
  • After reading, put students in small groups to discuss the close-reading questions. Then talk about the critical-thinking questions as a class.

Close-Reading Questions

  1. Reread Scene 1. Why is Sam excited about the eclipse? (character) Sam is excited about the eclipse because he’s very interested in science. He’s also looking forward to the eclipse because one crossing the entire U.S. hasn’t happened since 2017. Finally, he and other Science Club members will be having an eclipse party to celebrate it.
  2. How are Sam’s and Prisha’s motivations, or reasons, for joining Science Club different? How does this create conflict? (comparing characters) Sam is part of the Science Club because he loves science. Prisha is a new kid hoping to make friends and is joining the club because she wasn’t able to join the Theater Club. This creates conflict because Sam takes Science Club very seriously, while Prisha is less serious about it. She jokes around in the club, which frustrates Sam.
  3. What are three facts you learn about eclipses from the first two scenes? (knowledge building) Answers will vary, but students might say 2024 is the first year since 2017 when a total solar eclipse will cross the whole U.S.; Dallas, Texas, is in the path of totality, which means the sun will appear fully covered there; to safely view the eclipse, people need to use eclipse glasses or viewers; the 2024 total solar eclipse will begin on April 8 at 12:23 p.m.; during the eclipse, the sun will be bright enough to burn our eyes if we aren’t wearing protective glasses or viewers.
  4. How does Sam feel at the end of Scene 3? What causes him to feel this way? (character) He feels upset because he stayed up late baking special cookies that look like the eclipse for the bake sale, but the cake pops that Prisha made get more attention. He’s also upset because the cake pops she made represent the planets, which have nothing to do with the eclipse.
  5. Why do the students need to make eclipse viewers? (key detail) People need to use eclipse glasses or viewers to watch a solar eclipse because it’s unsafe to look directly at it. It can damage your eyes. In the play, Mr. Perez says stores are all sold out of eclipse glasses, so the Science Club needs to make their own viewers to look at the eclipse.
  6. In Scenes 7 and 8, how—and why—do Prisha and Sam work together to solve a problem? (problem and solution) Prisha broke the eclipse viewers, so the students have no way to view the eclipse that’s happening soon. Sam yells at Prisha after she breaks them but realizes that he is being harder on her than he would have been on other members of Science Club. After Sam finds Prisha in the school’s theater and apologizes, they notice that there are materials they can use to build new eclipse viewers. Prisha and Sam work together to solve Science Club’s problem by using old shoeboxes from the school’s theater to build new viewers that they all can share.
  7. Read the sidebar “During Darkness.” How does it help you understand what it might sound like outside during a solar eclipse? How does the sidebar help to explain what happens to the birds in Scene 9? (text features, making connections) The sidebar explains that many animals behave in strange ways during an eclipse. Birds stop singing, bees stop buzzing, crickets chirp, and pets might bark or meow from stress. This sidebar explains what happens in Scene 9 because in that scene “the birds go quiet.” Birds behave like they would at dawn during a solar eclipse.
  8. Reread Scene 9. How does Sam’s joke at the end of the play show how he’s changed? (how a character changes) Sam’s joke shows that he has come to appreciate Prisha’s jokes, instead of resenting them—and her. He is more lighthearted and easygoing than he was at the beginning of the play.

Critical-Thinking Questions

  • In the play, there are many moments where Sam feels worried Prisha will outshine him. How does his worry affect his relationship with Prisha? Is there a time in your life where you have felt this way about a friend? Did it affect your friendship? (theme) Sam’s worries cause him to dislike Prisha’s presence in Science Club, so he doesn’t try to be her friend. Because Sam is worried Prisha will become more beloved by the other members of Science Club, he doesn’t allow himself to enjoy her jokes and contributions. This leads to him lashing out at her in Scene 5. Answers to the second question will vary.
  • In Scene 6, Sam says Prisha is “trying to eclipse” him. Why is eclipse a clever word to include in this line? Why is this an important moment in the play? (Hint: Eclipse has two meanings. The noun solar eclipse means a time when the moon is positioned to cast a shadow on Earth and block our view of the sun. The verb eclipse means to receive more attention than someone else.) (author’s craft) This play is mainly about two things. One is the solar eclipse happening on April 8, 2024. The other is about how Sam feels like Prisha outshines him with her jokes and funny quips. The author chose the word eclipse in Sam’s line because it relates to two main ideas in the play. This is an important moment in the play because Sam admits to his friends why he’s really upset with Prisha. It’s not only because he thinks Prisha ruined the eclipse party or because she doesn’t care about Science Club—it’s because he’s worried that Prisha will outshine him.

3. Skill Building and Writing

Featured Skill: Knowledge Building


  • Distribute or digitally assign the Fact Finder Skill Builder, available on two levels. Have students complete it independently or with a partner. This skill builder will help prepare students to respond to the writing prompt on page 27. Then you can send their work to our writing contest! (See page 2 of the magazine for details.)

Differentiate and Customize
For Striving Readers

To help students understand the natural event this play is about, guide them to create a fact sheet about eclipses. While you’re reading, pause whenever you encounter a new fact to add to the eclipse fact sheet.

For Advanced Readers

After reading the play, students might be interested in building their own eclipse viewers. Have them follow a how-to guide from a reputable source (e.g., this NASA Goddard video) to make their own pinhole projectors (a type of eclipse viewer).

For Multilingual Learners

Multilingual learners might need extra support in order to understand the many puns Prisha makes throughout the play. First, explain that a pun is a funny use of a word in a way that makes you think of more than one meaning. While reading the play together, pause after reading each pun. Guide students in a brief discussion about what each phrase means and why it’s funny.

Can't-Miss Teaching Extras
Make an Eclipse Viewer

Make a solar eclipse viewer like the ones in the play with these instructions from Scholastic Learning Toolkit.

Understand More About Eclipses

This two-minute video from PBS Learning Media goes into detail about how a total eclipse happens.

Encourage Flexible Thinking

Some kids really struggle when things don’t go according to plan or they are required to think about something in a different way. This webpage from Socially Skilled Kids explores ways to teach, practice, and grow flexible thinking in your classroom.

Enjoy an Interactive Eclipse Craft

Looking for a fun arts and craft activity? This interactive solar eclipse craft can be made with paper plates, construction paper, Popsicle sticks, and tape. (Note: This webpage has ads.) You can also see a quick video on Pinterest of the craft in action.

NEW! Literature Connection

When the Sun Goes Dark by Andrew Fraknoi and Dennis Schatz

What Is a Solar Eclipse? by Dana Meachen Rau