My visits to schools usually begin with a 10 minute lecture
on the nuclear fusion that powers our star. Then I usher the students safely through my White Light, Calcium K and Hydrogen alpha Solar Scopes. These kids usually have never seen a narrowband solar telescope and I hear a lot of “wows” each time I bring them out. The students can also see surface images of the Sun live in three wavelengths through hi speed cameras and even take their own photos and videos!
When the Sun cooperates with a 60,000+ mile filament, prominence or a large active region with sunspots there is no replacing the look on a kids (or the faculty's) face after you explain the enormity and origin of the features. I like to also explain how the heat that they feel on the side of their face is a component of the features that they are looking at. This kind of ties it all together as the big fireball of hot plasma that the Sun really is.
We also recently added solar spectroscopy to the program so that the students can understand the mysterious qualities of light and wavelengths. We are doing our best to improve Georgia's #48 ranking in the US for sucessful high school graduation.
The kids are fascinated by the details of how it takes the light a little over 8 minutes to reach us from the Sun and they always want to know what would happen if it “blew up”. One little girl asked me once “How much water would it take to put out the Sun”. I couldn’t answer that one.
We pay no salaries and charge absolutely no fees of any kind for the program. We have maintained a 2%-3% administrative cost for the 6 years we have been doing this. Financials available on our main site at www.solarastronomy.org
We see aproximately 80,000 students yearly to teach about the Sun and space exploration.