Shaping the Sun
Solar Satellite Booklets & Big Sun Project
Highway Primary School, Chelsfield, Kent
22 Jan 2019, Yr5 (34)
Blog by Helen Schell
SSA Team:
Dr Helen Mason: University of Cambridge Solar Physicist
Helen Schell: Artist & ESERO-UK Space Ambassador
Steve Lloyd, Yr5 teacher
Olwen Hill, teaching assistant
(click on photos to see more)

‘It was a great day and the children were engaged, excited and learnt loads. Their scientific thinking was encouraged. SEN children responded with enthusiasm and engagement. I would 100% recommend this workshop to other teachers – the children loved it and learnt so much.’ (Steve Lloyd, Yr5 teacher)

 Workshop Format & Timetable

Highway Primary School is part of the South Orpington Learning Alliance Multi-Academy Trust and Y5 were in the process of doing their space curriculum studies making it an ideal time to visit with our SunSpaceArt workshop. This was a return visit to a school which embraces art and science with enthusiasm and hard work. The day long workshop was organised with the advance help of teaching assistant, Olwen Hill and Y5 teacher Steve Lloyd. Returning to a school gave the presenters the opportunity of observing how the previous workshop had affected the school and created an opportunity for more detailed solar science exploration. The aim was to present an inclusive workshop spanning art and science which appealed to all the children whatever their preference and abilities. This was achieved by dividing the day into 3 main sessions – Solar Satellite Booklets, Sun & Space Science, and the Big Sun artwork.

 Solar Satellite Booklet – STEAM Session 1
This started with an introduction to the Sun workshop by Helen Schell showing a PowerPoint of her solar art with related Sun images and including a Q&A session. The children were then asked to create small satellite books using fold-out and pop-up techniques, having first been being shown examples of experimental and inventive books, which used cutting, folding, drawing and collage techniques. This was also an introduction to creative methods to be used in the afternoon when making the ‘Big Sun’. They were given STFC Sun posters for written and visual references.

 Sun & Space Science – STEAM Session 2
Helen Mason presented a Sun science PowerPoint with a Q&A session. As well as solar science, this focused on questions which the children had prepared and which had been sent to the SSA team in advance. These questions were great, and included ‘Will the Sun ever become a black hole?’, ‘What colour is the Sun?’, ‘Who named the Sun?’, ‘How close can we get to the Sun?, ‘Is the Moon rough or smooth?’, ‘why do so many things in space have the same name as sweets?! These questions gave an indication of how much space science the children already understood. The children were very knowledgeable, which allowed for detailed scientific discussions. There were hands-on science activities which included UV demos, spectrum glasses and an infrared camera. The infrared camera is always exciting and delights the children.

 The Big Sun – Afternoon STEAM Session 3
Given the knowledge and creative abilities of the class, we set a more complicated scientific agenda and asked the children to create a giant Sun picture representing its 6 active layers – the Core, Radiative Zone, Convection Zone, Photosphere, Chromosphere and Corona.  They created this on paper (2m x 2m) which was divided into 6 rings within a large circle. They were split into 6 teams, each one representing a layer of the Sun and by using geometric shapes, pattern-making, colour and facts they described the internal workings of the Sun. This was achieved by building on the morning activities of collage, folding, cut-out and pop-up techniques and combining this with solar science.

Show and Tell at end of the Workshop
Each team was invited to present their layer and show the other class members how it fitted within the Sun. Their understanding was impressive and they expressed the science well through adventurous art ideas.

The solar booklets that the children made were of a very high standard and they learnt incredible details about space science. They were fully engaged throughout the day. As a design improvement, the artist will look at the contrast between each layer by using more variety within the colouring bands and pattern-making choices.

So, what did the children enjoy about the workshop and what did they learn?
‘I liked making the booklets and learning about the Sun’. ’I wouldn’t change anything because it was really good’. ‘I liked how we turned science into art’. ‘I learnt that the corona layer means crown’. ‘I learnt that there are sunspots on the Sun’. ‘I learnt that there are 6 layers in the Sun’. ‘I liked the heat camera’. ‘I liked how you mixed my two favourite lessons – art and science.’