‘What I liked was that we could design our own card linked to space. It was very creative. We used our imaginations.’
In September 2018, Helen Schell, a Sunderland based artist and ESERO-UK space ambassador, and Dr Helen Mason, a solar scientist from the University of Cambridge, ran a SunSpaceArt workshop at Northern Saints CE Primary school. This was our second visit and STEAM workshop. We were invited again because the school appreciated the first workshop in June 2018 so much. The school has lots of impressive art, crafts and designs in the playground area, entrance and hallways. The return visit was part of their Y5 space curriculum agenda focussed on the 50th Anniversary Celebration for the Apollo Moon landing in 1969. We presented workshops and talks which linked with the Sun and the Moon.
The activities began in the main hall with talks covering solar, lunar and space science linked to art (STEAM). This included a Q&A session to enable the children to begin their creative journey and start planning their booklets. Y5 was a large group of 85 children so they were later split into two groups, using the hall for the art activities. Each group had a two hour creative making session during the day.
The children were asked to create a small booklet in the form of an orbiting solar or lunar satellite which sends back a data stream of information to Earth about the Sun or Moon. This enabled them to understand light, energy, scale, and distances within the context of space science, technology and the solar system. We discussed new solar satellites which will go very close to the Sun, including NASA’s Solar Parker Probe (launched in August 2018) and ESA’s Solar Orbiter (to be launched in 2020).
Artist, Helen Schell, showed the children examples of experimental and inventive books with techniques, which use cutting, folding, drawing and collage. She also showed them examples of her own artworks. The topic also included the effect that the Sun has on the Earth and new plans for humans to return and live on the Moon. The ‘data stream’ required them to write out facts in their satellite booklet, communicating what they had learnt during the workshop. They were also encouraged to include poetry and stories.
For reference, they had STFC Sun brochures and ‘Hands on the Moon’ booklets (both freely available from the STFC website). They also had some laminated fact sheets and images for inspiration. These techniques allow all children to create exciting booklets whatever their previous knowledge, experience or individual abilities. They created innovative work, which expressed detailed science through adventurous design methods. There is always the potential for the school to take these concepts further for bigger and longer projects. Northern Saints school planned some extra activities, including school outings and borrowing the Moon rocks from STFC (again free of charge, but very popular!).
The children were very enthusiastic about the day’s activities. Their feedback included: ‘I liked being creative and getting to express our feelings about space.’ ‘I enjoyed learning new things and being creative. I really enjoyed it.’