Opening young minds to ‘Space Science – St Swithun Wells Catholic Primary School, Hampshire, UK

On Wednesday 10th May 2023 the Year 5 class (9–10-year-olds) were visited by BiD4BESt PhD students Alba Vega Alonso Tetilla and Hao Fu, both from the University of Southampton, who gave an entertaining afternoon of Astronomy Outreach of ‘Space Science’ to pupils at St Swithun Wells Catholic Primary School, UK. Primarily this event was organised by Alba and ably assisted by Hao.

Alba and Hao produced and presented a wonderful presentation about space, specifically focussing on the sizes of the planets in relation to each other, black holes, and galaxies. The class loved hearing about all of these, seeing the pictures and demonstrations that Alba and Hao had prepared, and really relished the asking and receiving of a range of questions! Young minds busy at work!

As today’s children are very computer literate, they particularly enjoyed engaging with the prepared inclusive activities (ASTERA game) using the laptops, more so than the traditional matching/drawing/and word association games. Nonetheless all activities were well participated and provided lots of fun through learning.

Adelane Wilkin, the Year 5 class teacher had this feedback of the afternoon: the year 5 pupils experienced an amazing afternoon on space, even saying that other colleagues just popping into the class tried to stay, if possible, to hear more of the teaching that was going on! In addition, she would gladly invite both “space people” (as her class liked to call them) back again to learn even more!

Alba and Hao received valuable feedback from pupils showing an increased interest in the topic of astronomy and galaxies. Pupil feedback offered a good insight into the understanding and enjoyment that these sessions presented with some of the results shown below.

The children were very enthusiastic and asked many questions. The original plan of 1 hour of teaching /discussion with a further 1hour of games was adapted to continue with teaching for an additional 20 minutes to accommodate all the questions. Most of the questions revolved around Black Holes, the Universe, and galaxies in general. They already presented a good background regarding the topics learnt in their Year 5 class (the Earth, the Moon, the Solar System) which helped them to come up with more interesting and advance questions about the topics mentioned before or even the Big Bang, the expansion of the Universe (neither of them included in the planned class) or philosophical questions (e.g., “What is the point of a Black Hole”?).

To measure impact of how important outreach is, Alba and Hao were also approached after the event by other teachers to propose other activities. This confirms the general interest from both the school and the students, which suggests overall success in this activity.

Well done and great job Alba and Hao

Images were supplied for use with permission from St Swithun Wells Primary School

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