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").

Space:

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).

Satellites:

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).

Imagination:

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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