Dr Helen Mason – University of Cambridge, Solar Scientist
Helen Schell – Artist & ESERO-UK Space Ambassador
School science lead: Robin James – Primary Science Teaching Trust Fellow
‘The level of enthusiasm and interest stirred by having such knowledgeable visitors was palpable. So much information was shared, I would spend a long time recounting it. One of the core messages was that going back to the Moon is a real intention, and all that building a Moon Base would need to involve. Strangely, a class with a high level of SEN had the option for individuals to filter out during the Q&A and return to their home class. None of them chose to leave!’ (Robin James, science lead)
Workshop Format & Timetable
An important part of the SunSpaceArt remit is to visit diverse regions across the UK, but sometimes the logistics of lengthy journeys make this difficult to achieve. Exeter Road Primary School in Devon was one such place and therefore it was agreed that we would create space themed projects for the entire school over a two day period making the most of our visit. This visit also coincided with other space themed projects, including borrowing the Moon rocks and Martian meteorites from the STFC, and a Mars Rover Challenge Day with STEM Ambassadors. The SSA team decided to complement these activities by presenting Sun, Moon and Mars themed workshops with the different age groups across the two days.
The children were asked to create artworks inspired by the Sun, Moon and Mars. This enabled them to understand light, energy, scale, and distance within the context of space science, human spaceflight and the Solar System. They also included the effect that the Sun has on the Earth, Moon & Mars and why it is important to them. The children will witness many extraordinary new technological challenges through a new human spaceflight programme in the 21st century. In the art session they used art and craft methods to express this through drawing, cutting/folding, collage and 3D construction techniques. The themes were split into 3 subject areas – the Sun (Y1 & Y2), the Sun & Moon (Y3 & Y4), and the Sun & Mars (Y5 & Y6). These workshops were informed by PowerPoint talks with Q&A sessions to start with. Helen Schell had recently returned from NASA and Rice Space Institute in Houston, so she had the most up-to-date information from the organisations planning Moon & Mars missions. There were laminated fact sheets, images and STFC space brochures for reference as well.
The Sun (Y1 & Y2): STEAM Session 1, Thurs 7th Nov
Helen Mason presented a 30 minute Sun session with a PowerPoint and solar props appropriate for this younger age group, which they enthusiastically enjoyed showing a good knowledge of the Solar System. Because of time constraints, the teachers were asked to devise some follow-on art projects. The children produced fabulous painted and paper cut-out pictures of the Sun and its solar activity.
The Sun & Moon – Moon Village Design (Y3 & Y4), STEAM Sessions 2 & 3, Thurs 7th Nov
The children were brought together in a large classroom for PowerPoint talk about solar physics from Helen Mason with hands-on science (infrared camera & UV beads), and Helen Schell about her Moon themed art and lunar exploration, historical, current and future plans. There was a 20 mins Q&A to get ideas flowing and to plan their Moon Village projects. The first workshop was with Y3 who were asked to sit in groups of 6 round large tables with each group choosing either a mission name or a Moon Village name. They were asked to design and plan a future vision of living on the Moon. This included the NASA & ESA Artemis/Orion Mission (first woman on the Moon), the Lunar Gateway (space station) and Moon village plans. They created simple structures using pop-up, folding and cutting techniques. Reference material was available. The sessions ended with a short show & tell with feedback. They invented new lunar habitats, rockets, rovers and robots as well as writing out facts and information. A lot of fun was had with the lunar learning.
In the afternoon Y4 were set a more challenging Moon Village task employing greater 3D aspects as they had a longer session time. Beyond this the format and aims were the same and they also created inventive and diverse habitations for a new generation of Moon dwellers.
The Sun & Mars – Look at Mars (Y5 & Y6): STEAM Sessions 4 & 5, Fri 8th Nov
The children were brought together in the hall for PowerPoint talk about solar physics from Helen Mason with hands on science (infrared camera & UV beads), and Helen Schell about her Mars themed art and future exploration, historical, current and future plans. There was special reference to the ESA & NASA rovers which are going to Mars in 2020 arriving in 2021. There was a 20 mins Q&A to get ideas flowing and to plan their Mars mission projects.
The first workshop was with Y5 who were asked to sit in groups of 6 round large tables with each group choosing a Mars mission name. Notable missions were Project Red and Galaxy Mars Bar Mission. They were asked to design and plan a future Mars Mission, which included NASA Mars 2020 Rover & ESA Rosalyn Franklin – ExoMars Rover 2020 and space robots, rockets and rovers. Again they used simple structures using pop-up, folding/cutting and 3D construction techniques. Reference material was available and we ended with a short show & tell with feedback.
In the afternoon Y6 were set a more challenging Mars mission task employing greater 3D aspects as they had a longer session time. This enabled greater discussion and inclusion of facts. Beyond this the format and aims were the same and they also created inventive and diverse technology for a new generation of Mars explorers.
The feedback from the children was enthusiastic: ‘I liked working as a team’, ‘I learnt about the Sun and Moon’, ‘I loved the part where we made our Moon village’, ‘My favourite part was working together’, ‘I loved it when you showed us about how big the Sun is’, ‘I learnt that there were more stars not just the Sun’, ‘I liked the part when I got to talk about solar eclipses’, ‘I didn’t know the Sun had a nuclear core’, ‘I learnt a lot about the Mars rover!’, ‘I liked letting our imaginations go wild’, ‘The two moons of Mars are Phobos (fear) and Deimos (terror)’. (feedback from children)