This is a good article to enrich the standard "Earth in Space" materials in KS3 or KS4 science. Fire the imagination as the basic facts of planets (masses, radii, distance from the sun, gas composition etc) are covered. Why not get a poster, a story a presentation, a video or Powerpoint from the youngsters? Writing as Martians maybe?

Help pupils to see how probes might work by bringing back the bunsen! Dim the room and burn a few salts. (chlorides of sodium [orange], potassium[lilac] barium [green] etc) Pupils view them through hand-held spectroscopes, prisms or diffraction gratings. They see a "fingerprint" spectrum characteristic of the substance. Being a chemical detectives might help find the fingerprints of human organic life somewhere out there.

John Dexter

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