Space in the classroom
Space and astronomy appeal enormously to the imagination. Most people want to know more about the stars and planets, spaceflight and our mysterious Universe. For this reason ESA and NSO have developed a special lesson series ruimtevaartindeklas.nl. Margriet van der Laan, a teacher at the Hyperion Lyceum in Amsterdam is an enthusiastic user.
Why is space and astronomy in the classroom a good idea?
‘It is extremely interesting. Take for example the question ‘how big is the Universe?’ Such a great question around which you can have endless discussions. A question like that triggers your imagination.’
And it is not at the expense of the ‘normal’ curriculum lessons?
‘At Hyperion we teach science in the lower school. We approach it using different themes. Nutrition is first, followed by reproduction, genetics and evolution, and finally the Universe. That’s when we use the ‘Ruimtevaart in de klas’ teaching material. When you start talking about extraterrestrial life, you automatically end up bringing in biology, physics and chemistry. You can easily connect the different subjects together using the Universe as a theme.’
What do the students think of it?
‘They love it. They play the Universe quiz, learn about exponents, discover how they can actually make a comet and explore why the sky is blue. The lessons encourage students to investigate for themselves. Each lesson is a puzzle that they have to solve.’
And how do the teachers like the material?
‘The lessons are well structured. As a teacher you know ahead of time exactly which topics are coming up, the duration of each lesson and the cost of any extra materials needed. It is all explained in the teachers’ guide. But most important - the students enjoy the lessons and can’t wait to get started.’