The year is 2086, and the students are needed for a special mission!
This space mission has been designed to provide students with a fun and interesting group challenge, whilst also building key skills in critical thinking and collaboration, and essential knowledge for Science, English, and Mathematics.
Students are placed in a scenario in which Earth is no longer habitable, and humans must seek to move to another planet in the Universe. Compiled for them is information on each of the potentially most habitable planets that are known to man (these are the real planets that have been confirmed by NASA and other agencies as having the most potential for life). In reading the key information, students will be drawing upon their knowledge of Science terminology, and will need to make some Maths calculations to work out implications of living on different planets.
What will become clear fairly quickly is that none of the potential planets are perfect, and they must use reasoned judgements to determine which of them have cons that could perhaps be overcome. They then present their ideas, using clear and articulate speaking and listening skills, and write up their report, using appropriate written communication (a scaffold is provided to frame this).
Everything is provided for you to download, print, and teach:
- A comprehensive, whole-activity PowerPoint that guides the students through the mission;
- Detailed and colourful information sheets on each of the contender planets for being the next Earth (these include links to amazing websites that can provide the children with more information);
- A 'Pros and Cons' scaffold, to help students record their findings;
- An information sheet on the 'habitable zone' around stars;
- A scaffold for writing up findings;
- Sorting cards for help with determining the key features of habitable planets;
- Full teacher guidance.
Considering the time and effort that it took to create these resources, I think that they offer exceptional value. Whenever I have used this activity before, it has taken at least 2-3 lessons, including the introduction, starter challenge, main mission, presentations, and write-up. I originally have used this with mid-ability Year 6,7, and 8 groups, but colleagues have easily adapted it for students across key stages 2-4.
All images have been cited at the end of the PowerPoint presentation and are licensed for commercial use.