Solar Satellite Booklets, in Stockport
Stockport Primary Schools: Yr5-Yr6, 120 children at four schools
14/15 February 2018
Blog by Helen Schell

(click on photos to see more)

‘The children really enjoyed the workshop and our deputy head said that it was awesome! Many thanks again, it was a fantastic event for Alexandra Park to be involved in!’ teacher at Alexandra Park Primary School.

In February 2018, the SunSpaceArt team, Helen Schell and Dr Helen Mason, ran workshops at four primary schools in Stockport.  This followed on from a CPD day for teachers at SEERIH, University of Manchester, on 30 January 2018, part of the Through the Science Window series. We were invited to present SunSpaceArt workshops at many schools in the Greater Manchester area. We first worked with four Stockport schools (half a day each), with a view to visiting other schools later. Helen Spring, an educational adviser, also visited one of the schools with us. The schools were:

  • All Saints CE Primary School (Stockport)
  • Alexandra Park Primary School (Stockport)
  • Bradshaw Hall Primary School (Cheadle Hume)
  • Outward Primary School(Cheadle Hume)

The activities began with talks linking science and art (STEAM), with Q&A sessions to enable the children to make creative booklets on the topic. Helen Mason talked about the science of the Sun, space & ESA/UK astronaut Tim Peake. Helen Schell introduced her art, including her ‘Sun’ art (Yellow Giant) & discussed book-making projects. She demonstrated example books; focussing on design & making techniques

Since we had limited time, the children were asked to create a small booklet in the form of an orbiting solar satellite which sends back a data stream of information to Earth about the Sun. This enabled them to understand light, energy, scale, and distances within the context of space science and the solar system. They also included the effect that the Sun has on the Earth, and why the Sun is important to them personally. They had information sheets, images and the STFC Sun brochures (which are freely available on-line) for further inspiration.

They used art & craft methods to express this through drawing, cutting, folding and collage techniques. The ‘data stream’ required them to write facts (literacy) in their satellites booklets to communicate what they had learnt during the workshop. The children illustrated the booklets with expressive art work. The use of simple materials and some earlier research enabled the children to interpret the theme using bright geometric shapes, poetry and scientific diagrams. They thoroughly enjoyed the sessions as well as learning some solar physics and new art techniques.

Their prior knowledge and understanding was dependent on their age group and the curriculum emphasis, which differed at each school. However, the resulting enthusiasm from both teachers and children was evident at all four schools. There is always the added entertainment factor of having several Helens in the classroom at the same time!

The feedback from the schools was very positive, and the only complaint was that there was not enough time. ‘Very engaging lesson, children were enthusiastic about the learning and learnt a lot. It also inspired a lot of children…. thinking about science and art. Deeper understanding of the Sun and the solar system, different ways to represent information. Maybe a longer session (a full day?) to dig deeper into the art side of the workshop.’ All Saints CE Primary School