Sun, stars and galaxies
This is always an area of the curriculum which captures students interest! With so much happening in space exploration at the moment, and a vibrant UK Sace Industry crying out for skilled employees, this is a great time to start students thinking about the wide range of careers in this sector and ignite their imagination. A great place to start is the ESERO website for news, teacher support and information about space ambassadors!
From 2014, students should learn about:
• our sun as a star, other stars in our galaxy, other galaxies
• the light year as a unit of astronomical distance
Visit the secondary science webpage to access all lists: www.nationalstemcentre.org.uk/secondaryscience
Links and Resources
This topic is great for allowing students to consider how scientific theories and explanations are developed and can change over time, as well as the idea that society can influence the extent to which new scientific theories are accepted.
Physics teacher and solar astronomer Simon Foster explores how our understanding of the solar system has developed from early models that placed the Earth as the centre of the solar system.
This is a good activity to demonstrate the sheer size and scale of the universe. Even if not used as described here, the data will be useful to teachers when designing their own activities.
Some stunning pictures of galaxies here to build into your own presentations. Remind students of how far away they are and how many stars they contain and you’ll have them exclaiming and asking you all sorts of questions.
You may like to follow this up by choosing some images from the Hubble Space Telescope gallery at http://hubblesite.org/gallery/ Alternatively, ask your students to explore the website for homework. They could pick three images and write a sentence about each. The starter for the next lesson is then for the students to show each other the images they chose
Some more stunning images to include in your presentations!
This is a delightful activity. Using real data, students build scale models of alien solar systems, calculate their goldilocks zones and consider the possibilities for life.
It's a good idea to watch the film first as it will provide a good overview of the whole activity and then stand back and watch as your students get creative with plasticine. You’ll want to photograph the results.
It can be difficult to get hold of expanded polystyrene (ceiling) tiles and they can be expensive too. Try out the long black tubes used to insulate water pipes, cut in half longways, as a much cheaper alternative. Although they are a different shape they also give more scope when it comes to choosing a scale