In addition to hosting regular training and support sessions for teachers in collaboration with ESERO Ireland, we are constantly developing and collating support documents and other resources that can help you enhance your delivery of space-themed lessons in the classroom.
See below for collated resources by school level, and check back soon to see new resources added for Science Week 2022.
Primary Level Supports
Images of Space
- The Hubble Space Telescope images are all copyright free and some of the best are available to download from the ESA/Hubble site. Also at this site is the Hubble Shop which offers free orders to educators. Items available include books, stickers, postcards, posters and more.
- Amazing Space Online explorations have a range of material for educators and learners of all ages tht are accurate and visually appealing
- The European Space Agency (ESA) has an informative site with details of current and future space missions. This is where you can find the excellent International Space Station Education Kits, for Primary and Second-level
- ESA has also produced “Teacher’s Notes,” a good summary of concepts in Astronomy
- NASA has vast resources available to teachers, including many lesson plans and activities. Follow links for educators.
- Interested teachers can get inspired for fun astro activities with this excellent Space Week teacher’s activity guide. (click to download)
- A TY Astronomy Module is available here.
- A superb summary of education links is available from the Guide to Online Schools and “The Science Spot”
- for younger primary students see these excellent Cassini / Saturn activities.
- Windows on the Universe has 3 reading levels and a host of games, including this Planet Suduko
- StarChild “A Learning Center for Young Astronomers” has 2 reading levels
- For the fun of watching for satellites in broad daylight try Heavens Above. To use this site you will have to enter the exact longitude and latitude of your observing site. This can be found with Google Earth.
- Explore Mars with Google Mars. Arizona State University runs a fabulous Mars education program.
- Interactive Scale of the Universe (slow to load and lighthearted in tone, ie “Shrew: 10 cm. Shrews are great little thingies. Their metabolism rate is so high they must eat their body weight every single day…“.)
About the Teaching of Science and Astronomy
- Science in School is published quarterly and is available free, with a searchable database of articles, teaching resources for both primary and second level, interviews with scientists and more.
- Astronomy Education Review is a web-based journal for everyone who works in astronomy and space science education.
Secondary Level Supports
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
- 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 teachers 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)
- Moon Phases and Headband from spaceweek.ie
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”