Ted's teaching tips

10th July 1998 at 01:00
(See page 16)

Most children have seen "Star Trek" on television, but space travel is now not just a fantasy but a reality and a part of national curriculum science (physical processes - "The Earth and Beyond").


What happens to someone in space? Why do astronauts wear a helmet? (for air supply; travel in an insulated suit? (protect body against extreme heat or cold, radiation, etc); carry an umbilical cord? (stop them floating away). How do astronauts get into space? (huge powerful rockets needed to break free from Earth's gravitational pull).


How do satellites work? (radiotelevision signals received from Earth, boosted, and then sent back down again). Does the satellite circle the Earth? (no, it hangs at the same point - known as "geostationary orbit" - above us, 22,300 miles into space, beaming signals down to the same patch on the globe, the "foot-print"). What use are satellites? (send signals for satellite TV channels, hence the need for a dish to receive these; inform weather forecasters by showing cloud movements; help news-gathering - reporters can send TV pictures and radio reports from anywhere in the world).


Imagine you are an astronaut floating in space. Describe in words what the Earth looks like, or paint a picture of it. Write a "Lost in Space" story, beginning: "LukeLila watched in terror as the cable holding himher to the spaceship slowly snapped..."

* Ted Wragg is professor of education at Exeter University.

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