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School talk, help appreciated.


leelee970
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Worth bringing planets to an earth comparison - ie how hot the surface of Venus is and how toxic it is - sulphuric acid for rain etc, how much pressure is exterted under Jupiters clouds - what would happen to you if you had 30 tons pressing down on you ? Mars at its warmest point is about the same temp as antarctica etc

How long it takes to get there - if you drove in dads car it would take xxxx time to get to Mars - kids need stuff to be related to their experience of the world.

You know the kind of thing - it would take a jet airliner X years to get round the Sun, Jupiter etc

I'd have to do the math again but I seem to recall if the earth was the size of a pea the sun would be a football 30 yards away - the nearest star would be 14,000 miles away (seem to recall that from somewhere).

And dont forget NEw Horizonas probe which will flyby Pluto on July 14s and will have been in flight longer than most of the kids have been here. Might spark some interest in them seeing the results.  Voyager did for me as a kid.

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The age group is 5 yrs to 11 yrs with about twenty children in four classes.

the duration is only going to be 30 - 45 mins in each class.

Can't think of anything to add in terms of content but when I plan classes for the little ones, I tend to divide the class into 10 minute sections. That doesn't mean that I adhere to those divisions but it does mean I have everything sorted in my mind; that there will be no lull, and if I see anything isn't working or seems to be falling on deaf ears, rather than press on regardless, I can change tact as if nothing has happened. I also keep a spare 10 minutes up my sleeve, just in case of problems or if something doesn't quite work in the class. 

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Well Ladies and Gents,

What can I say, so many suggestions and great ideas. I've now quite a few ideas and will now be busy preparing things.

Ben (bingevader) - you are absolutely correct, the main thing is to consult the school about religious policies and teaching, which is what I did previously.

I thought I'd better mention this for others that are going to schools, best to be prepared.

Many thanks again, Lee

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30 Minutes is a rather short time when working with kids. How about working on a new mnemonic for the planets - always surprising how good kids are at this sort of thing. 'My very easy method' etc becomes lots more fun when 'violent elephants (!!!)' are included!!

Mnemonic could include the dwarf planets too  i.e. MVEMcJSUNphme

If you have time though nothing like showing them something amazing, maybe projection of the sun through a telescope?

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I have been doing talks at schools primary and secondary for a few years now, approx 5 or 6 per year.  

I am always amazed at how much they already know, especially the little ones.  

They seem rivetted, I wonder how many other classes get their attention like that. As stated above, I always get the kids to answer questions throughout the presentation, and it really motivates them.

My talks are mainly based on the Sun and Moon as we take our solar scope and ordinary scope to look at the daytime Moon.

 one or two of my scopes for the children to play with

I'd be wary of this without strict supervision.  Kids have a habit of yanking things around.

Carole 

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I recently did a talk for the local Brownies group and they were 7 year olds about 20 of them. I was surprised about how much they already knew but they we're fascinated by the whole thing. They are trying to attain their stargazers badge.

I took in my daughters glow in the dark planets set that were hanging from the ceiling and used a football for the sun then got the kids to hold a planet and stand in the correct order from the kid holding the sun! Planet by planet I just briefly explained a little bit about it then got them to walk in a circle around in the sun so they could understand how the solar system worked. Then on the tablet showed them the plough and how to find polaris. About 40 minutes in all and they asked lots of questions!

I took a scope as well but sadly clouds rolled in and we didn't get to see anything. I would say keep it very simple and get them involved , their attention is easily lost.

They sent me a lovely email and a thank you video as well, according to the guide leader they haven't shut up about it so I may get called on again. Great fun and enjoyable to do.

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Just take some different size balls to show size of each planet and get volunteers to stand the different distances from the sun with each ball. You can even get them to orbit space permitting!

Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk

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I have been doing talks at schools primary and secondary for a few years now, approx 5 or 6 per year.  

I am always amazed at how much they already know, especially the little ones.  

They seem rivetted, I wonder how many other classes get their attention like that. As stated above, I always get the kids to answer questions throughout the presentation, and it really motivates them.

My talks are mainly based on the Sun and Moon as we take our solar scope and ordinary scope to look at the daytime Moon.

I'd be wary of this without strict supervision.  Kids have a habit of yanking things around.

Carole 

I'm not too worried about the children yanking things around, I'll be taking my two older and less used scopes.

In fact I'll be donating one of them to the school. 

Lee

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The Stargazing Live School section is actually pretty good. :)

Found the Fruit Solar System and the Impact Craters! :D

Have you found Astrocymru? https://twitter.com/astrocymru

I'm bringing the 3D shows and the rocket launchers to the outrach event and SGLX

And if you are doing craters here is a simulator you can use to work out how big the hole will be - you can change the paramaters for size, type etc  (although in my experience kids always just want to blow the biggest hole possible!)

Helen

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I feel like Pluto is always a super popular subject for kids, especially since it's being visited this year. When I was that age I spent hours in the library reading books about planets (back in ye olde days before I had access to the internet). I would have loved to know about moons of other planets too.

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Hope this is still in time to be of some use...

I gave a small talk at my daughter's primary school (she is in year 1, 5/6 yo) and was promptly invited back to talk to year 5 (9/10 yo) so I guess I got something right... The key thing for me was introducing some very basic science principals in a fun environment so they do not go away thinking science is boring.

For the first talk, I did the "why does the moon change shape" thing (note - a white balloon doesn't work - you need something solid: I used a globe removed from its base which was not ideal given it was obvioulsy Earth but worked!). I got the 20 children to take it in turns in groups of 2 or 3 to be "Earth" while I moved the "Moon" round in the light - the beam needed to be quite tight to avoid backlight reflections so we needed to move round a little but it did work. I followed this up with a "Moon Race" (my wife's idea - she is an ex-teacher) where the children divide into two teams (probably three if you have 30 in the class) and had to pass a number of balloons from front to back without using their hands - done under the pretext of "teamwork" but really an excuse to get them to enjoy themselves and associate space / science with fun. Mixed in with it all was a free-for-all Q&A session - yes, the God question came up (it is a Catholic school) so I just went for the "some people believe God made Man, some do not" answer - no point upsetting the school or arguing against a 5yo who will believe his dad no matter what you say...

The follow-up lesson was put to me as a Q&A session for some older kids who had questions too detailed for their teacher to answer. With a little trepidation, I opened with a short movie about the lives of stars and went for it with the questions. I was frankly amazed at the quality of questions and ended up having to email the teacher afterwards with the answers to two I did not know off-hand. This class asked questions constantly for 40 mins (we overran badly!) and there was still a forest of hands up at the end. If you go down this route, be prepared to answer questions about all sorts of things and get ready to sketch on a board - most were broadly on topic but covered everything from basic orbital mechanics to why Pluto is no longer a full planet to why the sea is salty to why nebulae are pretty to why asteroids are not round and pretty much everything in between. I finished with a "size of things" video which blew them away and triggered a whole bunch more questions about where they can see a supergiant - I told them about the two bright ones in Orion and they all promised to look when it got dark.

If you can find the time to spend with children and have your wits about you, it is a HUGELY rewarding eperience. I truly believe that primary school is the age to get kids interested in science as they have already decided what they are interested in by the time they get to secondary school. Two golden rules to finish: admit what you do not know as you will get caught out if you make it up and KEEP IT FUN!

HTH,

James.

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Many thanks again for all the help and suggestions made.

I've now quite a few ideas and would only wish I had more time with the children.

I'll suggest that I could come back to the school when the Moon is up so the children can view it first hand through my scope.

Wish me luck for tomorrow.

Lee

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