Science - Stars in their eyes

23rd March 2012 at 00:00

What the lesson is about

The mobile phone appears to have become as essential to the average secondary pupil as a sturdy rucksack and a pencil case. But the new generation of smartphones is opening up another dimension to learning, writes Andrew Lochery.

There are several fantastic apps that allow pupils to become increasingly familiar with the night sky - and many young people possess a real interest in finding out more about space and what is beyond our planet.

Hold a phone up to a bright light in the clear sky and an app will reveal the identity of the star or planet, together with its relative position to other celestial bodies. It is a revelation to many pupils that we can see some of our solar system in the night sky and not just distant stars. March promises good views of Venus, Jupiter, Mars, Saturn and Mercury.

It can also be a starting point for pupils to do more research. The recent BBC Stargazing Live series hosted by Professor Brian Cox and Dara O Briain helped to bring astronomy into the living rooms around the country and prompted discussion in schools. Clips from similar programmes are available in the BBC's Learning Zone, including excellent short clips from Professor Cox's Wonders of the Universe.

Taking it further

Space lessons can be brought to life using internet clips, whether of Neil Armstrong's first steps on the moon or the launch of one of the space shuttle missions.

What else?

Explore the differences between our neighbouring planets with cressida- bowden's solar system top trumps.

From Ptolemy to the Big Bang, Solene_01 covers all your astronomy needs in a lengthy presentation.

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