Professor Brian Cox has praised the "skill and professionalism of teachers" as he reflected on home-schooling his own son and delivering lessons for BBC Bitesize during the coronavirus outbreak.
The physicist, who regularly appears on TV and radio, acknowledged the difficulty of teaching complex topics like the solar system to children.
As well as teaching his 10-year-old son at home, he has been preparing lessons for BBC Bitesize aimed at 10- to 12-year-olds.
Coronavirus: 'Parents now realise what a tough gig teaching is'
Background: BBC unveils 'biggest ever' education push
Home-schooling: ‘QTS couldn't prepare me for home-teaching my kids'
Asked about his experience of home-schooling on BBC One's The Andrew Marr Show yesterday, he said: "It was quite difficult because...understanding how to pitch these ideas to these age groups is a real challenge and it gave me – if I needed to have any – more respect for the skill and professionalism of teachers.
Coronavirus: Parents having to 'take over' teaching
"And I'm sure many parents feel this view: it has been delivered to me very harshly in some sense, by trying to take over very briefly."
Mr Marr said some people's experience of science lessons in school was that the subject could be a bit "dry".
Professor Cox said the way to capture pupils' imaginations was to remind them how much of science was still unknown.
He said: "It turns out that only around 5 per cent of the mass of a galaxy like the milky way is in the stars...most of it's made of something called dark matter – we don't know what that is.
"And in that sentence, I think, is the key to inspiration. That idea that there's something profound in the galaxy that we don't know...to me, my experience with my son, is that's the kind of thing that captures the imagination.
"The reason we teach science, the value, is probably that one concept."
Professor Cox hopes the current crisis will inspire pupils to want to learn about science, by seeing it "in action".
He said: "The point is we are facing the unknown. This is a new virus... that idea that what we have to do as a society is to find out.
"Ultimately, I think this crisis will be solved by science in the sense that we need a vaccine and/or effective treatments.
He added: "Science can be a mindset...it's an exciting process if you embrace the idea that doubt is to be welcomed and not feared."