Science INSET for Islington space festival

An INSET session will be held at City and Islington on 27th March 2012 at 4pm looking at practical ways of teaching some of the space topics at KS3. The session will be held at City and Islington Sixth Form College, 283-309 Goswell Road, London EC1V 7LA in room 207 (click for map).

Models of solar systems

In groups devise a model of the solar system using balls, spheres or fruit. This is useful for assessing prior knowledge of the solar system and conincing pupils that they already know a lot. Each group presents their model - pick out the strengths of each model. Look at some applets to show the solar system. Talk about limitations of models.

Role playing Earth-moon/Earth-sun system

Group students into twos: one labelled earth, one labelled moon. The stiudents tell each other how to move to model some aspects of the movement of the earth and moon. After five minutes they demonstrate their model to the class. Class and teacher find the postivive elements of the model.

This model can be repeated with th sun moon system.

Formation and structure of the moon

The Apollo missions

Short"> video of the Apollo 11 mission with the first steps on the moon.

Video footage of the apollo 17 astronauts collecting the samples of orange soil.


Meteorites are rocks from space that fall and hit the surface of the earth. About 500 meteorites hit the earth each year. Most meteorites are stony material but about 6% are metalic being composed mostly of iron.

Meteors are rocks from space falling through the earth's atmosphere. There are millions of meteors every year but most are not seen because they are too small or fall during the day. The meteorites heat up as they move very quickly through the earth's atmosphere and glow brightly. Meteorites are also called shooting stars (although they are not stars), a very bright meteor is sometimes called a fireball. Some meteorites burn up in the atmosphere before the reach the surface of the earth. Some meteorites do not completely burn up and hit the surface of the earth and are then called meteorites. There are videos of meteors on YouTube.

Meteoroids are small bits of debris in the solar system. Meteoroids range from microscopic bits of dust to pieces about a metre across. When a meteoroid is pulled into the earth's atmosphere it is then called a meteor.

Circus of activities


Demonstration to show how the tilt of the earth's axis is responsible for the seasons. Use thermochomic sheet on a globe or ball to show how the heating effect of the sun or a powerful lamp depends on the angle to the source of heat. There is a worksheet at the Nation STEM Centre elibrary: worksheet.

Craters activity

Pupils can make craters and by dropping objects into sand or flour and compare the results with the craters on the moon. This is a good opportunity for experimental design,controling variable and simple measuring and recording. Crater experiment Crater experiment Crater experiment

Phase activity


Oreo activity.

Moon rocks

Using a pc based microscope or hand lens to look at moon rocks.

Earth-moon scale

Choose two balls one for the earth and one for the moon. The earth is four times the diameter of the moon. The distance to the moon is 10 x diameter of the earth. Wrap string around the earth ball 10 times and cut. Use the string to postion the moon ball the correct distance from the earth ball.


There is a free piece of software to show the appearance of the sky at any time and to show how the stars and planets appear to move across the sky. The software is available at

Further details

Details of all of the experiments and equipment used in the session will be posted on this page after the session