How the Great American Solar Eclipse sparked nationwide interest in science

By Chelsea Gohd
August 21, 2018, 10:36:56 AM EDT

The Great American Solar Eclipse ignited exceptional interest in science among the U.S. public, according to one new report.

Last summer, it seemed like everyone was obsessed with the solar eclipse. People scrambled to get their hands on eclipse glasses, shared articles about the event and brought up the eclipse in what seemed like every conversation. In the final report of a survey led by the University of Michigan, researchers found that U.S. adults who watched the 2017 total solar eclipse gathered information about the phenomenon about 16 times in the three months following the event.

nasa eclipse

The 2017 Great American Solar Eclipse as it was seen from Oregon: One study shows that this eclipse inspired U.S. adults to learn about science to a greater extent than any other similar event. Credit: Aubrey Gemignani/NASA

This is the highest level of information-seeking among U.S. adults that has ever been reported for a similar scientific event, researchers said in a statement. This incredible, historic event captured the entire country's interest and inspired curiosity about science.

"What we found was that there was a substantial amount of people going online, going to libraries, talking to their friends, trying to figure out what was going to happen with the eclipse before and after the event," Jon Miller, director of the International Center for the Advancement of Scientific Literacy at the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research who lead the survey, said in the statement. "To a large extent, scholars have watched what people do before a scientific event but not what they do after. The event can be a stimulus that causes people to look for more information."

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