Because of this interest, a space discovery station was designed to build on the children’s existing knowledge and understanding in this area, and to consolidate the knowledge they had previously obtained through inquiry-based play experiences with their peers.
The station involved the children going on an imaginary journey into space to get their first glimpse of the planets that make up our Solar System. Our space explorers moved around the different phases of the station, intently investigating each of the eight planets and identifying whether they were composed of solids or gases. They then transformed into astronauts and blasted off from the first station to the second, where they were presented with the opportunity of observing the different colours, sizes and shapes of planets via a painting experience. Fairy lights illuminated the station paths, giving our space explorers a more realistic experience of traversing the stars.
The children’s ongoing love of space became a reality for some, when they were given the opportunity to make their very own space helmets! Using recycled boxes and foil, the children worked incredibly hard with their friends to construct and design their helmets. Our astronauts later donned their creations and exhibited remarkable enthusiasm when they posed for photographs in their quirky creations.
By the end of the week, children were able to demonstrate that they had achieved a heightened appreciation about space. Their participation in the space station activity fostered a solid understanding of the basic composition of our Solar System, and many of our astronauts were able to engage in conversations with each other about the eight planets, as well as identify some of their defining characteristics.
The highlight of our investigation was the much-anticipated incursion, conducted by Starr’s Planetarium Education Group. From the very beginning of the space workshop, the children were mesmerised by the enormous dome in our IGS atrium and were beaming with excitement when it was time to go inside. Our space explorers were captivated by the stars and planets that lit up the canopy of the dome as they made their way inside.
Gary from Starr’s Planetarium had planned two developmentally appropriate and engaging learning experiences for us. Firstly, the children were given the opportunity to observe how day transitions into night, via an interactive 360° look at what is in the sky. They were presented with a myriad of new concepts by Gary, who discussed the motion of the sun, moon and other celestial objects through the sky, as well as changes in temperature, the stars at night and constellation stories.
Following an interactive presentation, our little explorers were able to watch a short space film about a boy named Tycho and his young friends, Ruby and Michael, blasting off on an amazing ride into space. The presentation gave the children the opportunity to observe the sun from a closer vantage point, watch the effects of gravity, see the earth from space and watch meteors shoot across the night sky.