Around 70% of Earth’s surface is covered by liquid water, but does water exist anywhere else in the Solar System? If you don’t know the answer to this question, the pupils of Maesglas Primary School can help!
Yesterday, year 3 and 4 students of the school in Newport (South Wales) were treated to a Universe in the Classroom workshop on ‘Water in the Solar System’. The workshop was hosted by Astrophysics PhD students, Ryan Stocks and Olivia Keenan, as part of project’s STARS scheme.
The STARS were asked to design the workshops around the school-chosen theme ‘Waterworld’, for children aged 7-9 years (year 3 and 4). They chose focus on water within the Solar System, and designed a workshop that offered a range of interactive demos and games about the scale of the Solar System, the habitable zone, the states of matter and alien life; before ending the day with a comet-making workshop.
Evaluation collected from the children pre-and post workshop demonstrated that they began the day with a basic understanding of the Solar System at the beginning of the workshop – the majority were aware of the Moon, the Sun and the ringed planet Saturn – and finished the day with a clear idea of the different objects, and a variety of environments, orbiting our Sun.
The STARS scheme isn’t only designed to educate children on the wonders of our Universe, but also to challenge the stereotypes of scientists by showing young children that anyone can do science – including them!
It seems like our STARS may have planted the seed of science in a few of the school children. Several of the young girls proclaimed that as a female Olivia “couldn’t be a scientist”, but by the end of the workshop the same girls were expressing a personal interest in studying astronomy, engineering or medical sciences in the future.