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 McCarthy

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.






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.


General sites for students:

For Teachers:

  • 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.


Students should be able to:

1. Describe the relationships between various celestial objects including moons, asteroids, comets, planets, stars, solar systems, galaxies and space

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.


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

5. Describe the cycling of matter, including that of carbon and water, associating it with biological and atmospheric phenomena.


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.

8. Examine some of the current hazards and benefits of space exploration and discuss the future role and implications of space exploration in society.