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Chapin Elementary students shine bright in visit with solar astronomer

Chapin, SC - Chapin Elementary School students had their imaginations taken to outer space during a special visit from local solar astronomer Larry Metcalf.

Metcalf, better known as “Sunspot Larry” is a retired scientist and teacher who travels the midlands of South Carolina and offers science outreach to elementary and middle school students in the form of solar astronomy. During his morning visit with fourth grade teacher Terri Cosby’s class, Sunspot Larry shared a meteorite that was 4.6 billion years old. The solid piece of rock blew students away.

“Science has been so good to me throughout my life and giving back to students is fantastic,” Metcalf said. “My whole purpose is to inspire kids to science, and I have found a great vehicle to do it.”

After gazing over the meteorite, Sunspot Larry had one other surprise for the students. A trip outside with a pair of solar viewing glasses and two telescopes awaited them. Students got to learn about sun spots and see what they looked like.

Metcalf worked as a chemist for Minute Maid, Coca-Cola and Borden, and after retiring, he wanted to find a way to give back and be involved in schools.

“I wanted something fun to do with schools, and a friend of mine suggested solar astronomy,” Metcalf said. “Nobody else does this so what a great idea it has turned into.”

Cosby, who met Metcalf years ago at Saluda Shoals Park, has made his visit a staple for her classroom.

“Larry has been such a great person to come in and share with my students,” Cosby said. “I really do believe that he inspires some of my kids to be astronomers when they become older. Last year, he gave me several recommendations for telescopes and some of our parents actually purchased them. It makes this real for them.”

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Call Paul Kirby

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