Simpson County Tourism Commission sponsored a two-day telescope workshop at the Franklin-Simpson Exploratorium last week.

Simpson County Tourism purchased the materials to make the nine telescopes, which will be donated to each of the schools in the district as well as the Boys & Girls Club of Franklin-Simpson.

"This is the project we want to do in the F-S Exploratorium," Franklin-Simpson teacher Matt Staggs said. "The kids are learning as well as hands on making at the same time."

The workshop allowed students to learn how to build an at home telescope with basic materials with the instruction of Western Kentucky University Professor and astronomer Rico Tyler.

Bennett Drake, Brandon Islas, Natalee Davis, Taryn Discher, Olivia Forshee, Lila Hufford, Anthony Bueching, Hayden Andrews, Victoria Chambers Ethan Smith and Daniel Smith participated in the workshop.

Tyler provided demonstrations for the students and in small groups they built the telescopes together.

Davis, who is a sixth grade student, said she has never looked through a telescope before attending the workshop.

"I liked drilling the screws for the base and looking through the telescope when it was finished," she said. "I would like to make one at home."

The workshop was held in preparation for the total solar eclipse, which will take place on Aug. 21. The city of Hopkinsville, Kentucky is predicted to have full totality making Franklin an ideal location to view the phenomenon. Simpson County Tourism will host a viewing party on that morning at 10:30 a.m. at the Franklin Drive-In.

Simpson County Tourism Director Dan Ware said the Drive-In was chosen because of its proximity to the Tennessee state line. Telescopes will be set up at the location for viewing.

"A total eclipse is a very rare event," Ware said. "The last time there was a solar eclipse over this part of Kentucky was 300 years ago. We're expecting a lot of people from out of state. The telescopes will be at the schools in Franklin for the viewing event. (The students) will remember this for a long time and be able to share a memory."

Staggs said WKU Confucius plans to distribute eclipse viewers for students so they can observe the sun transition happen safely.

An additional Telescope Making Workshop will be held on Sunday, Aug. 20 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at The Exploratorium facility. Materials and hands on instructions provided by Tyler.

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