BCO Education is your one-stop platform for Space Education Resources for Teachers. BCO’s Education Team have created and collated a whole suite of resources and training videos for Primary and Secondary Teachers, as well as hosting CPD events throughout the year.
Check out our dedicated Education YouTube Channel for a whole range of custom resources, and make sure you subscribe to get notified when new resources become available.
Our Education Team can also be found on Twitter as @BCO_Ed.
The Education Team:
Frances thinks of herself as a ‘performance astronomer.’ She works full time at CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory, with school groups and general public and can often be heard as the ‘voice’ of BCO on national radio. Frances has extensive experience in astronomy and education, and she still remembers a time when there were no known exoplanets and the Universe appeared to be younger than the stars in it!
Dr Niall Smith
Niall’s research interests include optical searches for extra-solar planets using telescopes on a number of sites in both the northern and southern hemispheres. As a central figure in developing and implementing the concept at CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory, he is very interested in encouraging more of the population, young and old, to gain a better insight into the scientific method and its importance to society. Dr. Smith has co-authored over 30 papers and conference proceedings, 1 book chapter and has supervised 15 postgraduate students. He is also a member of the International Astronomical Union.
PRIMARY LEVEL RESOURCES
- Classroom resources that use the DPSM/ESERO Framework for Inquiry can be found at SpaceWeek and at Science Foundation Ireland.
- A wide range of space themed primary material can be found at ESERO Ireland and at ESA Education.
- UNAWE – Universe Awareness for young children, includes a link to Space Scoop: astronomy news for children age 8+.
SECOND LEVEL RESOURCES
StarStuff is a series of talks exploring the fundamentals of Astronomy, Astrophysics and Cosmology hosted by CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory’s Dr Niall Smith and Frances McCarthy.
These talks are designed for those teaching the Earth and Space strand in Junior Cycle Science and to feed our curiosity about the Universe, our own solar system and our place in it.
Find the programme of talks here.
Junior Cycle Earth and Space Online Resources
The revised Junior Cycle Science Specification has a new section: Earth and Space. The eight learning outcomes in this section cover a wide range of earth and space science topics.
Lesson activities, interactives and other student supports are listed below by learning outcome.
EARTH AND SPACE
General sites for students:
- ESA Teacher notes, 6 booklets (available as pdfs or as webpages) on various astronomy /cosmology topics.
- LCOGT (Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network) Education
- Space Book and Astronomy Education at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has an extensive selection of online simulations, interactives and question banks for undergraduate astronomy. This is superb background for teachers and some of the topics can be adapted for use with students.
- AstroEDU – a portal of peer-reviewed astronomy education activities.
- UNAWE – Universe Awareness for young children, many activities can easily be adapted for Junior Cycle students. Includes a link to Space Scoop: astronomy news for children age 8+.
- Space Awareness – Free high quality tools to inspire and engage young people in science with space. Educational resources, stories about space and careers, webinars, interviews… Includes a unique Islamic Heritage Kit fostering tolerance and inclusion for different cultures.
- Space EU – Space science is a rich and powerful tool, providing educators a wealth of materials and inspiration.
ELEMENT: BUILDING BLOCKS
Students should be able to:
1. Describe the relationships between various celestial objects including moons, asteroids, comets, planets, stars, solar systems, galaxies and space
- Where does Space begin? article
- Cosmic Quest Education Guide : Education Guide with background reading and many student activities for “Cosmic Questions: Our Place in Space and Time” a travelling exhibition. It includes: How Big? How Far? How Old?
- Powers of Ten: Youtube link to the classic film.
- Pocket Solar System: student activity to model planet orbits on a sheet of till roll.
- Magnifying the Universe: Size of objects in the Universe.
- Voyage: A Journey through our Solar System Lesson 8: Comets, Bringers of Life? Includes an introduction about the chemical elements found in the Universe, Activity is based on students making a model comet from dry ice.
- ESO (European Southern Observatory) produces ESOCastLight, billed as “Extreme Science with extreme Telescopes and bite-size astronomy,” videos can be found on their YouTube channel.
2. Explore a scientific model to illustrate the origin of the universe
- Introductory activity: Modelling the Expanding Universe, also in the CosmicQuestEdGuide and here.
- Cosmic Times: Cosmic Times is a series of curriculum support materials that trace the history of our understanding of the universe during the past 100 years, from Einstein’s formulation of gravity to the discovery of dark energy. It consists of 6 posters, each resembling the front page of a newspaper from a particular time in this history, with articles describing the discoveries. The language of the articles mimics that of a newspaper from its respective era – different reading ages / teacher guides / extension materials. Lesson Plans extend students understanding though a series of practical activities.
- The expanding universe can be modelled with rubber band and balloon resources. H9-Modeling_Expanding_Universe has exercise bands that can be used in place of multiple rubber bands. Cosmic Times also has a raisin bread model.
- Big Bang Misconceptions article. History of Cosmology article.
3. Interpret data to compare the Earth with other planets and moons in the solar system, with respect to properties including mass, gravity, size, and composition.
- Why Pluto isn’t a planet anymore, article from the International Astronomical Union.
- Student Article ‘Goldilocks and the Three Planets’ with questions on Habitable Zone. And here you will find a teacher’s guide to discussion. Includes details on the slow carbon cycle and its effect on habitability.
- Temperature and Habitability in the Solar System. Extensive teacher notes, three-lesson student activities from the Messenger Mission.
ELEMENT: SYSTEMS AND INTERACTIONS
Students should be able to:
4. Develop and use a model of Earth-Sun-Moon system to describe predictable phenomena observable on Earth, including seasons, lunar phases, and eclipses of the Sun and the Moon
- Lunar Phases: Cosmic Times lesson plan from 1919 emphasis is on modelling and explaining models.
- Physical Outdoor Activity.
- Interactives of the lunar cycle (requires Flash), now available to download.
- Moon Phases and Headband from spaceweek.ie
- Sequence of lessons from Institute of Physics, suitable for ages 11 to 14.
5. Describe the cycling of matter, including that of carbon and water, associating it with biological and atmospheric phenomena.
- From UCAR (The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research)
- Soda and Oceans: hands-on activity with background reading. US Grade 9-12 suggested.
- Simple Climate Model, with Educators’ Guide to the Very Very Simple Climate Model, Computer-based interactive plus optional assessment.
- “Follow the Carbon“: modelling the fast carbon cycle with rice & “Our Changing Atmosphere“: plotting the Mauna Loa CO2 monthly averages; both are ‘Science Snacks’ from the Exploratorium.
Students should be able to:
6. Research different energy sources; formulate and communicate an informed view of ways that current and future energy needs on Earth can be met.
- Energy Budget: The Universe in the Classroom Summer 2013, overview of many teaching resources and websites.
Students should be able to:
7. illustrate how earth processes and human factors influence Earth’s climate, evaluate effects of climate change and initiatives that attempt to address those effects
- Climate Change online lessons, superb background reading for teachers, lessons can be adapted. Originally designed for “(a) 16-19 year old students, (b) teachers at the secondary and first year tertiary levels, and (c) chemistry professionals. The materials will also be accessible to the general public”
- C3S Climate & Energy Education Demonstrator tool an online tool developed to allow students to explore climate and energy variables, from historical data to future projections. The project website hosts videos and other guides to usage for teachers.