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Putting together a talk for primary school?


MrGoatsmilk

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My son is at primary school and the teachers have asked if anyone has any skills/interests etc that they can go in and present to the kids. One of mine is Astronomy and they have shown an interest in me putting something together.

The school caters for 4 years to 12 and I would be happy to do different ones for different age groups.

I have a couple of scopes I can take in and set up in the day for them to look at and investigate under my supervision (the scopes that is not the kids) I would like to give them some idea of how large and how far away the plants are from the Sun and each other. Such as different size balls and using the playing field to give a distance in strides to each object for them to actually see.

I want to get some hands on stuff for them and not just spout facts and figures at them. As if there is enough interest I would like to offer to the school and parents an evening where I would set up the scopes on a few objects for them to get a taste of star gazing and seeing with their own eyes what is out there and how interesting it can be.

Anyone here presented to kids of this age? If so any ideas would be greatly appreciated. The school already teaches this nature of topic and does take them to Jodrell Bank.

Regards

Stuart

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hi,

i teach year 1 (i.e. 5 year olds), and i can confirm how interested most primary school children are in this sort of stuff. i think it's a great idea to go in and talk to them.

however, i've not much experience bringing astronomy stuff into the class room - i haven't been doing astronomy very long. i've been threatening to start an astronomy club at the school for a while though. i can definitely recommend you e-mail Dr Daniel Barth (i think his user name is adastra?) - he posts on here sometimes, as he teaches this stuff for living and has forgotten more than i'm ever likely to know about astronomy pedagogy.

that said, let me know if you have some specific advice you'd like.

stephen.

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Rather than different sized balls for the planets, I recall when I was at primary school we all went outside to the playing field and the person doing the astro talk chose some kids to be the sun & planets, important moons & probes like voyager etc and we were spaced out to scale on the field.

an idea perhaps?

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I did a talk at my daughter school just before the summer holidays. In Scotland they do a term in Primary 6 (10 years old) when they learn all about the Solar System.

Astronomy is a big subject so I would recommend concentrating on one subject to start with. The Solar System would be a good start -

I did a Power Point presentation as they have a Smart Board in the classroom that I was able to hook my laptop up to. Followed by a video of the scale of the Solar System which then went on up to the largest known star.

I had a mate of mine help out as he also has a telescope so after the talk we set up the scopes in the playground for the kids to look at. We also had Baader Solar Film filters so the kids were able to all get a look a some sunspots as luckily the clouds cleared just before the morning break bell which was when the talk was due to finish.

We had a great morning and the kids were brilliant and asked some great questions. I'd highly recommend giving it a go. We were also going to do the scale of the Solar System in the playground but ran out of time. The plan was to use the kids as the Planets and measure the distance between them. I had printed out pictures of the Sun and Planets for them to hold. I also had an app on my phone (android marketplace) called Solar Sizer to work out the distances.

If you liked I could email you the Power Point presentation (PM me your email address if you like), it's a bit basic but it will give you an idea of what I did (feel free to use it if you like). I tried not to go too much in-depth with facts and figures but concentrated on telling them what you can see through a telescope, bino's and naked eye. Storm clouds on Jupiter, Polar ice caps on Mars etc.

Here's some links to what I used in the talk - Solar Sizer - Android app on AppBrain

If you don't have an Android phone - Solar System Scale Model Calculator

I downloaded this video from YouTube for after the Power Point presentation -

I hope this helps a bit and good luck, I'm sure you'll have a great time whatever you decide to do. :p

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks to all for the help advice and pointers I'm really looking forward to doing this, I hope to get something regular set up maybe even a parent and kids observing hour or 2 every now and then during the darker months as they don't have to be out all that late then plus it gets not only the kids involved but also the parents and I bet there will be a few who have never looked through a telescope or bins.

I do plan on just concentrating on the solar system and not going too far out too soon. I really want to get them looking up, asking and researching questions and answers. It will also make help me learn more.

I shall download the Android app and the video.

Once again a massive thank you all!

Stuart

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I often give a short talk to visitors to the Astronomy Centre (adults & children) called "The Scale of the Universe". It's reasonably basic supported by appropriate power point images and starts with the Sun and working outwards to the galaxies. I find it important that they have some idea of the scale of things in order to better appreciate the subject

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Good for you!

I did the same this summer at my daughters primary school and it went down very well. I really enjoyed it as well.

The things that went well were:

Solar observing - Baader Filtered Newtonian.

Pair of Giant Binoculars on a tripod - the kids loved these for looking at trees, houses, anything really!

Making a Star Wheel - Make a Star Wheel! - Family Fun - SkyandTelescope.com

Drawing constellations - actual and made up ones

I did a presentation on the sun and planets and finished with used loads of pictures from APOD of some of the most interesting objects.

Another one to try if the moon is around is too look at that as well.

Good luck.

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  • 2 months later...

Well the day is almost upon me I'm there this Monday, it's going to be a look see for the kids at this point then as I said if there is interest I will set up during the evenings for parents and pupils.

I'm just wondering what sort of questions the kids are likely to ask? What were you asked or would expect to be asked?

I will be taking plenty of printed photo's of the planets and will take a laptop and projector for sky maps and the youtube videos above.

Thanks again

Stuart

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I've done a few sessions for younger scouts... building the solar system out of them (sort of to scale) is always a good one... try and get them a sense of scale on it...

You can just about fit it into a room, if you make the sun 2mm in diameter... ok the average primary school child is a bit bigger... If you want to go for a sun the size of an average bowling ball... you're talking about something like a mile...

Build a Solar System Model | Exploratorium

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I have done this along time ago, to slightly older kids, but the principle's still apply.

My advice would be several fold. Talk about stuff very tangible, that they can already relate to, the moon is a good one obv., set them tasks- draw the moon from their garden for example. They may well have heard about the Mars probe- ask them if they have, and develop on that, distance etc and it gives an opening for solar system size.

When talking about equipment, talk binocs- they all we have some in the house , talk them through looking for specific objects, and how to keep them stable- using a wall, tension loaded string etc.

Get the teacher/assistants to be larger planets and kids to be smaller.

Above all make them laugh early doors:D

Good luck, it will be fun I'm sure

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While I don't teach the primary school age group, we do organise primary school visits via the Society. (It often seems primary level kids are more enthusiastic than secondary to me)

Main advice would be - keep it simple at first and gauge the ability from the response you get. Break up any activities (a bit of presentation, a bit of telescope, a bit of practical etc) and be prepared for them to ask questions way more complex than you would expect.

Our plan involves:

- Use of Stellarium to show what to expect and look out for in the sky (projected in a dark room, Stellarium gives a great planetarium feel)

- use of telescopes to see Moon, planets etc

- pointing a few constellations, how they form pictures in the sky, how the Plough can be used

- use of a scale solar system model (made by one our members) to demo the distances involved

- give them a quiz on what they've learned (eg. Who remembers what this constellation is called?

- give them time to ask us any questions.

Also remind them that a telescope isn't a neccessity - just get outside, grab some binos. Keep it hands on, interactive - sitting down and listening to someone talk for more than 20 minutes isn't good for adults, let alone children.

And if you need to, always have backup stuff ready in case it's cloudy. The BBC has some cut & make activities that schools find useful.

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Thanks again for the latest replies I had not read them until now, however I have just got back from the school and took 2 classes. IT WAS GREAT!!!!:)

I set up the scopes took loads of printed pictures and spread them around the room on the stage, had binos for them to also use. Got them up and moving looking through the scopes, taught them how to use a simple sky map and how to find North with the plough, they have all gone home with sky maps and things to look for. I showed the the video on youtube that compares planets and stars (link in thread above) that went down really well.

They asked loads of questions and thankfully I could answer them some even stayed behind to ask more instead of going out for playtime!

I have been asked to go back in the future and am now looking to set up email for interested parties to come along when I set up on a clear night for parents and kids to come along and take a look.

Thanks again everyone

Stuart

P.S I did ask what is best for looking at the night sky, some said telescopes and some said binos, but then I pointed out we all have them with us all the time and it's eyes. They all smiled and I saw a lightbulb moment in each of them. That was nice to see.

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Thanks again for the latest replies I had not read them until now, however I have just got back from the school and took 2 classes. IT WAS GREAT!!!!:)

You are a real star (forgive the pun). What a great an rewarding thing to do. It sounds like they all had a great time and hopefully you have sown the seeds to create some future astronomers.

Well done, you should be proud of yourself.

:) :)

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Thanks again for the latest replies I had not read them until now, however I have just got back from the school and took 2 classes. IT WAS GREAT!!!!:)

I set up the scopes took loads of printed pictures and spread them around the room on the stage, had binos for them to also use. Got them up and moving looking through the scopes, taught them how to use a simple sky map and how to find North with the plough, they have all gone home with sky maps and things to look for. I showed the the video on youtube that compares planets and stars (link in thread above) that went down really well.

They asked loads of questions and thankfully I could answer them some even stayed behind to ask more instead of going out for playtime!

I have been asked to go back in the future and am now looking to set up email for interested parties to come along when I set up on a clear night for parents and kids to come along and take a look.

Thanks again everyone

Stuart

P.S I did ask what is best for looking at the night sky, some said telescopes and some said binos, but then I pointed out we all have them with us all the time and it's eyes. They all smiled and I saw a lightbulb moment in each of them. That was nice to see.

Well done!!!

It's always good to see someone sharing their passion, especially with kids. I hope your lesson stays with them as they grow older.

Mike

Sent from my mobile using TapaTalk (so please excuse bad grammar & spelling!) :-)

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  • 4 weeks later...

Just an update to let you all know that the Astronomy afternoon must have gone better than I imagined as yesterday I was approached by the head who said they (the teachers) had been discussing me that very morning as there is a vacancy for a Parent Governor and that they would like me to apply.

Fingers crossed I get the position and am able to help more with astronomy and maybe get a reflector for the school in time to come. Who knows I can only ask and see what happens.

I know it will involve more than the astronomy side but it would be nice if I can at least put some ideas forward in relation.

Had to let you all know as I'm quite chuffed to have been asked

Stu

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Just an update to let you all know that the Astronomy afternoon must have gone better than I imagined as yesterday I was approached by the head who said they (the teachers) had been discussing me that very morning as there is a vacancy for a Parent Governor and that they would like me to apply.

Fingers crossed I get the position and am able to help more with astronomy and maybe get a reflector for the school in time to come. Who knows I can only ask and see what happens.

I know it will involve more than the astronomy side but it would be nice if I can at least put some ideas forward in relation.

Had to let you all know as I'm quite chuffed to have been asked

Stu

Mate, that's awesome. Let us know how you go! I'd love a scope for my school - have you thought how it'll be used? The thing that always put me off is the logistics of using school premises with kids after dark, organising everything, cancelling it if it's cloudy stuff like that. But, kudos for your efforts!

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What a great thread. Someone wanting to do something positive. Lots of like minded people offering support. The positive action carried through with success. Appreciation being showed. Excellent.

Well done Stu.

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That sounds like you did an absolutely brilliant job, well done! I'm a primary teacher and the mix of activities and 'wow' space facts is just what would go down well. In fact, after having our local astronomy group in to do a talk & viewing session, I have now got my own scope - proof of how the right introduction can inspire!

I would be very interested in your ideas of how to set up an astronomy group at school - I have been considering this for a while, but there are so many difficulties...

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I would be very interested in your ideas of how to set up an astronomy group at school - I have been considering this for a while, but there are so many difficulties...

you and me both mate. i'm going to do some solar + via webcam into the smartboard with my class this week, but i have no idea how i'd do an evening session.

if the sun comes out of course.

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I did this for my daughter's infants school and my subject was karate which I teach as a Yondan.

My tip is to make it very visual especially for an infant/primary school audience. What you think is interesting is not what the kids might so reeling off facts and figures about planets is not going to float their boat at all.

So lots of pictures/videos and try to take the telescope - that will pique their interest. Rockets etc will always get them going....

Thats my 2 penneth... Good luck,

Steve

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hi there my 12 year daughter did this via a video she made of the moon and saturn and some deep space pics

she also did a quick talk on the planets and the solar system,she did it for a class science project with the videos on a dvd she took with her she did the talk have in pics and video helped here no end the green laser pointer was a big hit with the kids

her teacher was so impressed she then gave the talk to her whole year at school 200 kids she was a little shy but she got there in the end

i tried to do this after and the school liked the idea of setting the scopes up ect but the red tape and insurance and all the rest would have took weeks to put it together and the teacher flaked out in the end

good luck

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I'm hoping that it will be run from the school grounds, but if and when red tape kicks in I shall use the field at the rear of the village hall then let parents know that I will be set up and who ever wants to turn up can do so under their own steam. See how that goes then if there is enough interest I can get the names and email addresses of parents, or facebook id's etc with those I can set dates for planned observing but also ask them to check for any messages on the day, that way if it's looking cloudy I can either cancel or let them know it may end early etc.

By them just turning up and showing an interest I can't see much need for the schools insurers to become involved as it's basically like any interested parties meeting up for a few hours observing.

I do like the idea of using a camera to show live images of the Sun on a screen, that could be the next talk during school hours :D

Thanks again, it's wonderful to see support from you all.

Stu

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