Four hundred years ago Shakespeare died in Stratford-upon-Avon. He left behind a legacy of 37 plays, 154 sonnets and two epic narrative poems. Since then, people all around the world have embraced his work, through books, plays, films and creative projects. We even use his phrases in everyday language, feeling ‘faint hearted’ (Henry VI, Part I), ‘dead as a doornail’ (Henry VI, Part II), or ‘fancy free’ (A Midsummer Night’s Dream). Shakespeare has given us wonderful insults, like ‘loathsome as a toad’ (Troilus and Cressida), and powerful descriptions of love, like ‘it is an ever-fixed mark, that looks on tempests, and is never shaken’ (Sonnet 116). In almost any situation, you could find a Shakespearean line to express how you feel.
Young people often find Shakespeare difficult to engage with – it’s a little like learning a foreign language! Seeing his plays live or as films can be a great starting point. But decoding Shakespeare’s sonnets is a bit harder, since they’re not often performed or produced. At Curved House Kids, we like to take a hands-on approach to making literature accessible, so we’ve developed a suite of ‘Write your own sonnet’ worksheets for students in Key Stage 3-4.
Our worksheets explain what a sonnet is and how it’s structured. They provide a simple template so that young poets can plan their rhyming scheme easily, without getting lost on the way. Each template includes a visual prompt to kickstart the imagination. These prompts will help unlock creativity, providing inspiration for the ‘story’ the sonnet will tell and the vocabulary poets might use to tell it. The prompts on each of our templates have different moods and styles, so your poets can choose one which appeals to them, or challenge themselves by writing several poems.
Download our worksheets by clicking in the image below and get your aspiring poets scribbling. Feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your work or use the hashtag #CHKshakes on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram!
If you want to explore Shakespeare’s works in other ways, check out Shakespeare400. This year-long programme coordinated by King’s College London includes performances, exhibitions and creative activities for all age groups. Visit the Sheakespeare400 website for programme details.
We wait with ‘bated breath’ (The Merchant of Venice) to read your sonnets!
Going to Bologna I didn’t know what to expect. I knew of course children’s books and illustrators but I never imagined the magnitude of the fair. Before this I had only been in my country’s (Colombia) biggest fair — the Bogotá Book Fair (Filbo) — and in Canada I went to the Toronto Book Fair, both wonderful but very different in size and purpose.
When Kristen and I arrived we immediately felt the joyful energy of this Italian city and were surprised to see how dog-friendly it is. As we walked through it, in less than an hour, we spotted 40 dogs. We knew that this was the place to be.
At the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, creative minds get to show their work and their enthusiasm for their craft. Walking through the stands, we viewed books that have been published all over the world. Where the fair began there were halls filled with the artworks of the selected illustrators, each of them with their own distinguishing style. Germany as the country of honour had a special hall exhibiting their illustrators. Work from this country demonstrated different techniques, from laser cut to fine drawings in black and white, or other illustrations filled with elements and a variety of colors.
The fair was huge and I had never been in one of this scale. It had stands for every country; sometimes publishers from a same nationality shared one but in most cases they had their own. As we explored the hallways of the Latin American countries, Chile caught our attention. They produce wonderfully crafted books with talented illustrators, as well as great ideas. The most wonderful surprise was meeting Argentinian publisher Diego Bianki from Pequeño editor, who publishes from the heart and has won prizes at the fair this year and last. Talking to him we saw the passion he has for his craft, which is clear in his books like Tree Book Tree. This is an amazing book that can be planted and a tree will grow out of it. To promote it, he used the motto: books come from trees, today a tree comes from a book.
There were also panels about a variety of topics. We had the chance to listen to some about enriched books and interactive book apps, and how this market has to work to make business model strategies get attention for what they are doing. Now publishers are also creating books with augmented reality. This is a new concept of books that isn’t being used in Colombia but it is a worthy tool that we should be pursuing and discovering. Its possibilities are endless.
The panels weren’t only about technology, and I was especially moved by one about refugees and children’s books. Panelists talked about how stories can help children understand why people leave their countries to live somewhere else and how this feels. It’s not just about understanding but about feeling and evoking emotion. This way real empathy is created and children can start building a better understanding with others. I left this panel with the feeling that these stories are needed all over the world and that they are helpful in all types of environments.
After the panels, we met Verena Pausder from Fox and Sheep, and illustrator Christoph Niemann who had great ideas and advice for Kristen.
I can’t end this blog without mentioning the lovely publishers from Ireland we met who adopted us into their group. They not only make amazing books and have creative initiatives, such as the book clinic, but also have such warm hearts and are very friendly. They truly made this trip to Bologna even better. Children’s Books Ireland, O’Brien Press and Little Island now have a special place in our hearts.
Valeria De La Vega is a final year student at Pontificia Universidad Javeriana where she is studying Communications with an emphasis in Publishing. She is interning at the Curved House Kids to learn about publishing children’s books, help translate the books to Spanish and to assist with the development of visual literacy resources.
It’s International Children’s Book Day on 2nd April 2016 and we at The Curved House are reflecting on how we developed our love of books…
I would love to boast that I was a prodigious childhood reader, ticking-off The Wind in the Willows aged 4. I was not that. I loved a good picture book, Katie Morag and the Tiresome Ted being one of the best. But when it came to attempting chapter books, I had no interest.
I now wonder whether it simply came down to taste. I won’t blow my own trumpet and claim I just wasn’t being challenged – it felt very challenging! – but I felt very keenly the effect of being educated using strict reading levels. The alternatives, provided by my very well meaning Mum, were painfully fun, zany, and garish which was even worse. I could count on my fingers the number of books I finished between the ages of 6 and 12, outside of school.
Written word purists might disapprove but audiobooks were what pulled me back in. The discovery of Stephen Fry’s rendition of Harry Potter and the fully dramatised (but unabridged!) production of Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights were completely magical. And suddenly I saw the point in reading again.
One of the most important things I’m discovering at The Curved House is the universal importance of visual literacy. It’s becoming clearer that children learn and develop in completely different ways. This has encouraged me to reconsider my critical and self conscious attitude about the way I got into reading, that there is something wrong, or easy, about audiobooks.
Audiobooks are an amazing format in themselves and they are also a potent gateway drug into the world of reading! For the uninitiated: I recommend anything Philip Pullman has ever recorded!
Rosie Cunningham is a graduate of MLitt Publishing Studies at the University of Stirling. During a condensed and highly productive four week work placement at The Curved House in Berlin, Rosie authored and project managed a Curved House Quick Guide, conducted extensive marketing and picture research, and assisted with editing and proofreading. She’s now returned to Edinburgh to work for Picture Hooks Illustration Agency to pursue her career in other areas of publishing. We wish her all the best!
British Science Week has arrived! To help you celebrate, we’ve put together a list of our favourite space-related experiments for your Space Apprentices. We can’t wait to see how you celebrate Science Week. Don’t forget to use #spacediary on Facebook and Twitter, so your photos appear on our Mission Feed.
This activity will need some adult supervision to assist with cutting and construction.
Chapter 3 of the Space Diary explores things Tim Peake might see from the ISS. He has a very special view of space! From Earth, we can’t see the things in our solar system quite as well, especially if we live in the city. Depending on where you live, you might be able to see the constellation called Ursa Major, also known as the ‘Big Dipper’, if the sky is very dark. This is where a galaxy called the Pinwheel Galaxy is.
But you can build your own Pinwheel Galaxy pinwheel, with the help of NASA. You’ll need a colour copy of the Pinwheel Galaxy printout (available here), a pipe cleaner, some wooden chopsticks or a popsicle stick, some scissors and a hole punch. For detailed instructions on how to make your Pinwheel Galaxy pinwheel, head here.
Engineering for space
This activity is more suitable for older children. It will need adult assistance and supervision, and requires some items which you may not have at home or school.
To get an astronaut safely into space, it takes a big team of clever engineers to design and build a spacecraft, and an even bigger team to co-ordinate blast-off. If you watch the launch of Tim’s Principia Mission, you can see the power needed to shoot a heavy spacecraft through Earth’s atmosphere and into outer space. Watch a clip of Tim’s launch below.
You can build and launch your own spacecraft, with the help of an adult. There might be a few things – like a film canister and antacid tablets – which you don’t have at home or school, so make sure you talk to an adult or teacher beforehand to help you plan your activity.
Details of how to build and launch your own Bubble-Powered Rocket ship are on the NASA website here.
Younger children will need some assistance with this experiment. It can be messy, so make sure your Space Apprentices have an appropriate place to work!
Planetary geology is an important space science. Geologists examine the structures and surfaces of planets, their volcanoes, moons and the impact of craters on them. Geologists study samples collected during space missions, as well as meteorites that have fallen to Earth, to learn more about the planets in our solar system.
While there are lots of planets in our solar system with volcanoes, astrogeologists are particularly interested in those with active volcanoes, since this is something those planets have in common with Earth. The moons of Jupiter, Saturn and Neptune all have active volcanoes.
You can make your own volcano with everyday items you have at home. Ask an adult to help you create your very own space volcano, by following the instructions here.
Adult supervision is important for this experiment, because it uses boiling water.
Space Apprentices who have researched our solar system will know that the weather on other planets is very different to the weather on Earth. Some planets have extreme solar winds; others have dust storms and hurricanes. Some planets – like Venus – have a thick layer of cloud, which traps heat and creates a greenhouse effect.
You can make your own cloud in a jar with just a few household items. You will need to use hot water in this activity, so it’s important that an adult helps you. By making your own cloud, you can witness firsthand what happens to water as it heats and cools. Next time you look up and the sky and see dark grey rain clouds or fluffy white ones, you’ll be able to tell your friends what’s going on above your head!
To learn how to make a cloud, follow the instructions here.
Younger children will need some help with this experiment, and all young scientists will need a space where they can make some mess with paint and soil.
Biologists are essential when it comes to space research. Not only do they look at what happens to the human body in space, they also study what happens to plants. This is important because scientists are investigating growing food in space.
There are lots of different challenges associated with growing food in space, because of the lack of soil, direct light, oxygen and gravity. You can explore what happens to plants when their light source is restricted, using a fun phototropism experiment. Plan ahead, because you need to paint some cardboard and wait for it to dry before you can go to the next step. You might like to build your experiment over a few days.
To build your phototropism experiment, click here.
By the children of the Gardening Club at Hillmead Primary School, Bishop’s Stortford, Herts
When we first heard that we were amongst the schools selected to take part in the Rocket Science RHS for Gardening Campaign, to grow seeds that have been orbiting the Earth for six months, we were really excited and told our local newspaper about it. We even received a tweet from Tim Peake!
We did watch Tim’s rocket launch and felt for him flying out into space. Everyone was glad he made it ok.
While waiting for the seeds to be sent to us, we got busy with our space apprenticeship through the Curved House Kids Space Diaries. We have explored how tall we would grow in space, how it would feel to float in microgravity and we have learnt to say ‘hello’ in four different languages! It was fun creating our own spacesuit, especially as most of us made sure there was a ‘nappy’ involved! Breaking the code was a tricky one but our helpful grown-ups gave us some clues, so we could decode Mrs Peake’s message finally.
It has been exciting learning about the planets and their special features. It seems like a good idea to take an umbrella to Neptune – if we ever get there! We have also created our own ISS and Soyuz rockets and imagined ourselves flying out into space.
Now that Scott Kelly has brought the rocket seeds back to Earth, preparations have begun at the gardening club for the great experiment. Halfway through the Space Diary, we are really looking forward to learning more about space and the life of an astronaut. Our space apprenticeship has been fun so far!
Image by NASA. (Artists impression of an International Space Station garden)
Growing plants in space is an important area of research – especially as we need to explore how we might be able to grow food on planets such as Mars.
At the moment, astronauts eat food sent from Earth in packages like in this picture. If we want to spend more time in space, however, it will be much nicer to grow our own food!
A team of European Space Agency (ESA) scientists has created a list of the top 10 plants to grow in space.
Soybeans are amazingly rich in protein and oil, and can be made into products such as soy sauce, while the immature pods are eaten as edamame. Dried soya can be found in many other foods and drinks, as well as essential products from paper to adhesives. After processing, the oil from the seeds can also be used as a diesel fuel – what a useful plant to grow in space!
Humble they may be, but few crops produce as much food per square metre. Although mostly carbohydrate, they contain high-quality protein and useful amounts of vitamin C. Older varieties are often robust, water-efficient and high yielding, if not so easy on the eye.
Rice feeds nearly half of humanity, and it would be unthinkable to leave this behind. Paddy rice (grown in water-filled paddy fields) might be tricky in space, so perhaps the much less important dry land rice (grown in dry soils) would be the interplanetary choice.
Soft white wheat
Used to make many of the staples of our diet, from bread and pasta to couscous.
Tomatoes are a must. Imagine life without this tasty, vitamin rich succulent fruit. It can be eaten raw or used in cooking.
Spinach is quick-growing, can be eaten raw or rapidly cooked, and its sharp flavour would be especially welcome on long voyages. Astronauts would be wise not to gorge, however, as the oxalic acid it contains can limit dietary uptake of calcium.
Quick and easy to grow, lettuce produces limited waste and is refreshing, an important point for travellers confined to their spacecraft for long periods. Lettuce was originally grown for its oil rich seeds and these too might be valuable in space.
In August 2015, a few months before Tim Peake’s mission, Scott Kelly and the other astronauts aboard the ISS ate the very first lettuce grown in space. The red romaine lettuce was grown in the ISS’s Veggie plant growth system. After harvesting the lettuce and tasting it, the astronauts dressing it with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. You can watch them enjoying it here.
Beetroot is a sweet, tasty and nutritious root crop, and its leaves make a filling, robust spinach-like vegetable. In theory, sugar beet would be a heavier yielding crop, but it is of little use in space since there are no processing factories.
Lengthy missions would be dull indeed without these sweet, nutritious, flavour-enhancing vegetables. They also have an analeptic (stimulating) effect on the central nervous system, helping to keep astronauts alert. Onions like a hotter, sunnier climate, so varieties that perform well in Britain should grow anywhere.
Not very appetising but in the worst-case scenario, space explorers would be able to survive on this green micro-alga. Harvested from the ocean, it is protein rich and efficient at producing oxygen from carbon dioxide breathed out by the crew.
Happy space gardening!
Dream Giver by Morgan (Y6) at Simonside School
An eerie full moon in an abandoned town peered across the sky. The ebony, moonlit sky was scattered with numerous stars that periodically blinked. They shone over the roof tops of the town which was surrounded with a deafening silence. Cricket chirps were the only noise that filled the air. Nestled in the heart of the town stood an ancient stone church which towered proudly over the other buildings. As the wind blew in the town where there was no-one to be seen, washing clung to the line for several more hours; a sign that people had fled.
In the pitch black neighbourhood only one little light infiltrated the darkness from one lonely window…
Suddenly, in one swift motion a moth-like creature descended upon 2655 Kensington Avenue. Hesitantly, the intriguing creature grasped the edge of the shutters with his long, bony fingers. As he took a step forward he pushed the door ajar.
Noticing the sleeping children he quietly consulted with his notebook which he kept in his back pocket. As he checked the address he was relieved to know he had reached his destination.
The deprived young children were snoring while sleeping contently, despite the absence of their parents. As the little orphanage boy slept peacefully in his checkered bed, the creature perched upon the ledge. He entered the old, wooden building peering around the children that surrounded the room.
The passage light was shining through their open, mahogany door. It was decided that the
children were scared of the dark and needed to feel safe, so this was the best action.
Before very long, the visitor fluttered down and lay his hessian bag on a child’s bed. His eyes widened as he peered inside, with the light shining on his face. As he made his way to the first six-year-old child, he took out a glimmering egg an cracked it open.
Inside every egg was a dream that belongs to each and every child. It was quite unclear exactly as to what or who he was. He poured a part of the magical insides onto a little pair of ballet shoes which lay at the bottom of a deprived young girl’s bed. With one splash of magic the shoes turned bright pink and a little dancer started dancing across her bed. She smiled contently as she lay there in peace; a feeling that influenced her dream.
As he moved on a small boy stirred and colourful explosion set off. An egg had crashed…
Beams of light filled the room as swirls of stars surrounded the astronaut. As the swirls increased in speed the young space cadet was swallowed by a hungry vortex.
Lying in a ball on the dusty earth, the boy awoke and examined his new surroundings. The rainforest! Butterflies gathered and fluttered sound his head as a little one floated and silently landed on his finger. Suddenly he noticed something out of the corner of his eye. A little rock had been nudged. Carefully he placed it into the right position.
The light climbed and ominous clouds gathered as the darkness descended. As time went on he walked further into the forest. Remnants of an Aztec tribe were littered around. An old skeleton was perched against a rock; an indication that there had been no life for some time.
A piercing pair of narrow slithers of lime green light penetrated the darkness. Suddenly a ferocious growl thundered from within a cave which ricocheted from every surface. Panicking, the boy froze instantly to the spot.
Hesitantly he backed away before turning to run. He ran and he ran and he ran. Faster, harder, quicker. The dust clouds travelled behind him. The beast continued to stalk him. His fate was sealed; he was bound to die.
All of a sudden bombing eggs started to gather around the beast. Gnarly roots started wrapping around eventually turned it into a trap.
With his arms covering his face sweat dripped down his brow. He was safe. With a jolt he awoke from his dream. A firefly noise was heard as it passed. He looked at the open window with wide eyes … What was it?
This gripping tale was written by Morgan from Simonside Primary School and we absolutely had to post it because we were enthralled from the first sentence! Thank you to Miss Lisa Pegman and Morgan for sharing this excellent piece of creative writing with us. Keep up the good work!
Here’s a small selection of some of our favourite pics from the Space Diary programme. We’d like to thank all the teachers, schools, parents and guardians for participating by using the #spacediary hashtag on Twitter, it makes us incredibly happy to see all the kids having so much fun with their Space Diaries! If you would like to be featured or see how other schools and groups are using their Space Diaries simply tweet us @CurvedHouseKids and use the hashtag #spacediary. You can also view more images from the project over on on our Mission Feed!
This month, our Principia Mission Space Diary investigates some of the things astronaut Tim Peake might see in space, like the planets in our solar system.
All the planets orbiting our sun are unique. They have different landscapes, atmospheres and rotation speeds. To help our young Space Apprentices explore the planets without having to leave Earth, we’ve put together some information for them.
A huge thank you to Year 11 student Anna Fleming, from St George’s School for Girls in Edinburgh, who’s written a fabulous piece for us about Mercury. Thank you Anna for leading our expedition into outer space!
by Anna Fleming
Daytime temperatures on Mercury can reach 800 degrees Celsius. This is because the sun is 38.98 miles from Mercury. Compare this distance to Earth’s distance from the sun – 91.4 to 94.51 million miles – and you can see just how exposed Mercury is to the sun’s heat.
The scorching heat of the day is followed by freezing nights – Mercury is a planet of two extremes. Night time temperatures can go down to minus 290 degrees, as cold as deep space. At this temperature, you would freeze to death instantly. It gets so cold because Mercury does not have an atmosphere to trap heat and regulate temperature. Due to these extremes in temperature, it is impossible for water to exist on Mercury.
During the day and the night, the sky over Mercury is black, also due to the lack of an atmosphere to scatter the sun’s light. Its surface is similar in appearance to our moon, with craters from meteorite impact dotted around and regions of smooth plains. Most of the craters were a result of Mercury being heavily bombarded with meteorites 4.6 billion years ago. These craters can span hundreds of kilometres across and 2 kilometres deep – better watch your step!
There is no weather system on Mercury due to the lack of atmosphere, meaning you wouldn’t have to worry about any storms or hurricanes. However, there are the extremes in temperatures and the occasional earthquake due to compression forces ‘shrinking’ the planet.
The gravity on Mercury is only 38% strong as the Earth’s. This means you could jump three times as high and would be able to easily pick up really heavy objects. Playing football in these gravity conditions would be difficult. The ball would stay in the air for a long time and would go huge distances even with a gentle kick. You would need a much larger pitch and be prepared to use big leaps and jumps to get the ball.
Venus is the hottest planet in our solar system. Its surface can reach temperatures of up to 480 degrees Celsius. This is because it has a permanent layer of thick clouds, which trap in the heat and cause a greenhouse effect. The heat has boiled all the water out of Venus’ atmosphere, which means its surface is too hostile to sustain life.
Venus is not a very welcoming planet. Beneath its clouds of sulfuric acid droplets is a landscape of volcanoes, mountains and craters. Temperatures during the day and night are similar, because of the solar winds which move slowly across Venus’ surface. These winds aren’t like a refreshing breeze though – they only make Venus hotter.
Even though scientists think Venus might once have been a lot like Earth, possibly even with oceans, it has no moon or any seasons. The reason there are no seasons is because Venus doesn’t tilt on an axis, the way Earth does.
The days on Venus are very, very long because Venus spins so slowly. It takes 243 Earth days to equal one day on Venus. Imagine how long that would make your school day! Venus also spins in the opposite direction to the other planets in our solar system, with the sun rising in the west and setting in the east. This may have been caused by an asteroid colliding with Venus and changing its rotation.
The days on Venus might be long, but the years are short – shorter than the days in fact! It takes only 225 Earth days for Venus to orbit the sun, making its year shorter than its day. If you are 10 on Earth, you would be 16 on Venus, but you would only have been alive for 15 Venus days. There’d be days on Venus when you’d have to have more than one birthday!
Despite its harsh landscape and strange rotation, Venus is the brightest natural object in the sky, after the moon and the sun, of course. Because it’s so bright, lots of ancient civilisations had myths about it. This may also be the reason that it was named after the Roman goddess of love and beauty – quite a contrast to its barren and hostile landscape!
Our home planet is the only planet in our solar system known (at present!) to support life. Everything Earth’s inhabitants need to stay alive exists under the thin layer of Earth’s atmosphere, which divides our world from outer space.
Earth is a solid planet whose surface is covered in diverse terrain: mountains, forests, valleys, plains, polar caps and deserts. But one of the key differences between Earth and the other planets in our solar system is water. Around 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered in oceans, and we have rivers, lakes and other bodies of water on top of this. Earth’s water was originally trapped within the planet, but over time volcanic action brought this water to its surface.
Earth has an ozone layer, made from a special kind of oxygen. Like a protective shield around the planet, the ozone layer absorbs most of the sun’s harmful UV rays. This is why preserving our ozone layer is so important – we don’t want to let those nasty rays into our home!
Did you know that your compass wouldn’t work the same way on other planets? Earth has a powerful magnetic field, which we’ve been using for centuries to help us find our way. Scientists believe that it exists because of Earth’s rapid rotation on its axis, and its nickel-iron core. But our magnetic field isn’t just a useful navigation tool. It protects Earth from the effects of solar winds. Solar winds are charged particles that flow from the sun. They can travel at up to 900 kilometres per hour, and reach temperatures of one million degrees – Earth would be very different without our protective magnetic field!
Mars has fascinated Earthlings for a long time, and not just because of its unusual red glow. Scientists believe intelligent life once lived on Mars, which led to the theory of Martians. This is partly because Mars is similar to Earth in many ways. It has seasons like earth, even though these last twice as long and are more extreme than we’re used to, and is the only other planet with polar caps.
Ice water has been found beneath the Martian polar caps, and there’s also evidence of water in the icy soil and thin clouds. The atmosphere is too thick for water to exist as a liquid on the surface of Mars, but the terrain suggests that there were floods long ago. Because of the presence of water, scientists are researching whether it might be possible for people to live on Mars one day.
Like Earth, Mars has volcanoes and canyons. One vast canyon system runs along Mars’ equator and is as long as the United States. And we think the Grand Canyon is big! Mars has our solar system’s highest mountain, which is called Olympus Mons. This mountain is a volcano 21 kilometres high and 600 kilometres wide. Mount Everest is 8.8 kilometres high. Can you imagine something nearly three times higher? Scientists have found evidence of lava on Olympus Mons, which means it’s still an active volcano. It’d be exciting to see it erupt from the ISS!
Even though Mars has some similarities to Earth, there are lots of differences too. Instead of one moon, Mars has two. They’re called Phobos and Deimos. They are much smaller than our moon, aren’t smooth and round, and orbit quite close to the Martian surface. Mars has gravity like Earth, but it’s only 38% as strong. This means that you could jump more than three times as high on Mars.
The days on Mars are only a little bit longer than on Earth – 24.617 hours – but one year takes 687 Earth days. This is because of Mars’ big and elliptical orbit, which gives Mars six seasons instead of four. These extra two seasons are called perihelion, when Mars is closest to the sun, and aphelion, when it’s furthest from the sun. The elliptical shape of Mars’ orbit also creates the largest and fiercest dust storms in our solar system. These can last for months and cover the whole planet. It wouldn’t be much fun living on Mars during one of these storms!
Jupiter is the biggest planet in our solar system, which is why it was named after the Roman god of gods, and the god of the sky. Jupiter is so massive that it would take eleven Earths lined up side-by-side to equal the distance from one side of Jupiter to the other, and 317 Earths to equal its mass.
Unlike Earth, Jupiter doesn’t have a solid surface. It’s one giant ball of gas. This means there’s nowhere for a spacecraft to land. Jupiter has a unique cloud layer in its upper atmosphere, which gives it its unusual marbled appearance. Its cloud belts are made of ammonia crystals and sulfur – imagine how that would smell! Jupiter also has three rings: two faint outer rings and one thick inner ring.
Jupiter has 67 moons in total, all orbiting around it. Its moon called Ganymede is the biggest moon in our solar system. All these moons whizzing around Jupiter make it a bit like a solar system. Scientist believe that if Jupiter was just 80 times bigger, it would have turned into a star, like our sun.
Jupiter wouldn’t be a very nice place to visit, even if there was somewhere to land. Its pressure is so intense that anything that gets through its clouds is crushed and melted. It also has a giant storm called the Great Red Spot. This storm is bigger than Earth and has been raging for hundreds of years!
If you lived on Jupiter, you’d have a very short day at work or school because your whole day and night would be just under ten Earth hours long. Even though your day would be short, your year would last nearly 12 Earth years, so you’d have to wait a long time for your birthday. You’d have plenty of time to plan your party though!
Saturn is famous for its seven rings, which often make it people’s favourite planet. These beautiful rings have puzzled scientists since they were discovered by Galileo in 1610. The ring system is made from billions of particles, which can be tiny icy grains or as large as mountains. The reason we can see the rings from Earth with a telescope is because they’re made from ice. If you’ve seen a frozen lake on a sunny winter’s day, you’ll know that ice is very reflective. Just like the planets moving around the sun, each ring orbits around Saturn at its own speed.
Like Jupiter, Saturn is a gas giant, made from hydrogen and helium, the same gas we use to fill up balloons. Saturn is the least dense planet in our solar system. Because it’s mainly made of hydrogen, it’s less dense than water. This means it could theoretically float if you found a bathtub big enough to put it in.
Saturn has 150 moons and some smaller ‘moonlets’. Each moon is frozen like an ice cube. Saturn’s moons all have interesting and unique qualities, which scientists are still discovering. The moon called Enceladus appears to have an ocean hidden below its frozen surface. Another moon, called Titus, looks like it may have life on it, but its frozen surface of liquid methane lakes and landscape of frozen nitrogen would mean life would be very different to the kind we know on Earth. Another moon called Pan orbits within the main rings of Saturn, sweeping materials out of a narrow space called the Encke Gap.
Saturn has an unusual hexagon shape which surrounds its north pole. The hexagon is a six-sided jet stream which rotates. It is so big that it spans 30,000 kilometres – more than twice the diameter of Earth! The discovery of this strange phenomena thirty years ago helped scientists calculate the rotation speed of Saturn, which is 10.7 Earth hours.
Even though you can’t see Saturn’s rings without a telescope, you can still see the planet from Earth. It’s a pale yellow colour because its upper atmosphere contains ammonia crystals. On Earth, we often use ammonia in cleaning products, especially for glass and stainless steel. Do you think this would make Saturn sparkling and clean?
Uranus is a cold and windy planet made of gas. It was the first planet to be discovered by telescope, which means you can’t see it from Earth with the naked eye. If you get a chance to look at Uranus, you’ll see it’s a pale blue colour. This is because its upper atmosphere is made from water, ammonia and methane ice crystals.
Since its discovery in 1781, scientists have learnt all kinds of interesting things about Uranus, like its strange tilt. Its equator is nearly at right angles with its orbit, meaning that it spins on its side. Instead of moving like a spinning top around the sun like the other planets, Uranus looks like it rolls around the sun. Because of this, scientists have given it the nickname ‘the sideways planet’. Their theory is that something the size of Earth collided with Uranus, dramatically changing the angle it rotates at.
Like Earth, Uranus has seasons, but these are very different from the seasons we know. Each season on Uranus lasts 42 years! One hemisphere of the planet will have non-stop daylight and heat, when it faces the sun. During this time, the other half of the planet has a long, dark winter. The planet slowly rotates so that the other hemisphere is facing the sun, and the seasons reverse. You’d have a very long summer holiday if you went to school on Uranus!
Even though Uranus has such a long summer, it’s the coldest planet in our solar system because it’s so far away from the sun. Uranus is called an ‘ice giant’ planet, because it has an icy mantle which surrounds its rock and iron core. Its minimum surface temperature is minus 224 degrees Celsius – you wouldn’t need a fridge!
Uranus has 13 rings, but they’re not spectacular like Saturn’s. Uranus’ strange tilt means its rings are perpendicular to the sun. Scientists think the rings are made from pieces of comets and moons that collided and broke apart. The dust and debris caused in these collisions is the reason why Uranus’ rings aren’t as beautiful as Saturn’s icy ones. Some researchers believe these rings are still very young, so who knows how they might change over the next few centuries!
Earthlings didn’t know Neptune existed until 1846 because it is so far away from our home planet. It takes such a long time for Neptune to move around the sun – 165 Earth years – that it has only completed its orbit once since humans discovered it. Even though its year is so long, a day on Neptune only takes 16 Earth hours. This is because it spins very quickly on its axis.
Neptune is cold, dark and very, very windy. Its supersonic winds are three times stronger than those on Jupiter and nine times stronger than Earth’s winds. Not very good weather for flying kites!
Are you afraid of storms? Then Neptune isn’t the place for you. Neptune’s biggest storm is called the Great Dark Spot, which is about the same size as Earth. The longest storm on record started in 1989 and lasted five years! Neptune has a second, smaller storm which is about the size of Earth’s moon and is called the Small Dark Spot.
Neptune is an ice giant like Uranus. It’s made from a combination of water, ammonia and methane. The layer of methane gas above its clouds gives Neptune its blue colour, which is why it was named after the Roman God of the Sea. Methane absorbs red light, which is why this planet looks so blue.
There are fourteen known moons orbiting Neptune. The largest moon – Titan – is one of the coldest worlds in our solar system. It spits out particles of nitrogen ice and dust from its surface – not very welcoming for space explorers!
Like Uranus, Neptune also has six faint rings. These are made from ice particles and grains of dust coated in a carbon-based substance. Scientists believe these rings are very young, and won’t last for a long time, so Saturn doesn’t have to worry about being outdone!
Congratulations on completing your mission to explore our solar system. Have a safe journey back to planet Earth, Space Apprentices!
This blog has been written by Tim Bromwich’s Year 3 Class at Cooper and Jordan School, Aldridge
Today in Year 3 we have witnessed the most amazing thing!
We all sat together and experienced a once in a lifetime event. Tim Peake made history by becoming the first official British astronaut to go to the ISS.
Over the past few weeks we have learnt more about space through our Space Diaries, preparing ourselves to become astronauts, and watched many videos from aboard the International Space Station. The more we learnt about life in space, the more we couldn’t wait until lift off. This morning we were all extremely excited by the fact that we could see Major Peake blast off, all the way over in Baikonur Kazakhstan. We huddled together in Mrs BB’s classroom and watched the BBC coverage of the launch. We learnt so much from the presenters, from the training that astronauts undertake to the importance of their space suits.
Creating our first meal in space
We eagerly waited for the countdown and as soon as the timer in the corner got to 10, we joined in with the countdown.
As the counter reached zero the whole of Year 3 cheered, along with people all around the world, as we watched the rockets propel Tim and his team towards space. We all felt overwhelmed with happiness as we saw the rocket successfully leave the launch pad, and were excited to find out more about what Tim would get up to.
The launch countdown and our first creative writing exercise ‘8-minutes to space!’
To make it even better, as the rockets ejected themselves from the craft, Tim turned to the camera gave a big thumbs up and a wave, then went back to concentrating on his flight checks. It felt like Tim was waving to us thousands of miles away in Aldridge.
We will all be rushing home tonight to turn on the television to see how Tim and the team have progressed, and cannot wait until we hear him talk from aboard the ISS.
What a fantastic morning for us all and the start of an awesome adventure for Tim and his crew.
Well done Tim!
Tim Bromwich’s Year 3 Class
Cooper and Jordan School, Aldridge
I’m sure you can recall a time when someone asked, ‘Do you remember where you were when…’ usually followed by a major historic event. Imagine future dinner table conversations, when our young people are asked if they remember where they were when the first British astronaut went to the International Space Station under the Union flag, and they reply, ‘Remember it? I was part of it!’
The young people in the 27th Lincoln Scout Group, with the support of Eagle Community Primary School, are headed for an out-of-this-world orbit whilst creating a lasting record of their involvement in the Principia Mission. As Major Tim Peake lives and works on the ISS, conducting scientific experiments like determining the ability of human life to survive, grow food, and undertake activities in microgravity conditions, we will be following along on Earth. Our group will imaginatively document their experiences in a unique Space Diary from Curved House Kids and the UK Space Agency Principia Mission outreach programme.
This week all seventy of our young people (aged 6 to 14) and leaders started their diaries, putting themselves into the boots of a real astronaut, and living up to the scouting motto, to find out how prepared we would be for space. Watching the introduction video from Lucy Hawking and Dallas Campbell, we found out why it is so important to be fit and healthy for space. Then we completed an Astronaut Workout – jumping for space, stretching up to measure how tall we are, perfecting our balance and floating postures, as well as steadying our breathing to remain calm in our space suits. The young people used these results to consider and discuss the physical impact on our bodies from being in a weightless environment. Finally, we had a look at nutrition and the sort of food astronauts – past and present – would eat, and designed our own healthy meal in our diaries to be packed up for our mission.
Our own space journey began at the beginning of October, on a group camp titled ‘There’s No Place Like Space’ which coincided with the launch of International Space Week.
Imaginations were unleashed on our ‘Area 51’ camp area with its own mission control (camp/office), ISS (kitchen and mess tent) and briefings in the ‘air lock’. Young people became space cadets for the weekend, split into mixed section/mixed age teams named after pods on the ISS (Unity, Harmony, Destiny and Quest), to take part in activities that accumulated points in our own weekend space race.
Our space race challenges included scaling the climbing wall in ‘Planet Exploration’ and decorating souvenir neckerchiefs with space related designs for ‘Space Pennants’, as well as pitching and striking a tent as part of cadets’ survival needs. ‘Ignition’ found the young people building and igniting small fires to be the first team to boil water, and in ‘Rocket Launch’ they explosively launched decorated plastic bottles using a foot pump and hosepipe to create hydro pressure.
‘We Come in Peace’ – interacting with other life-forms at camp fire – was a huge success and a ‘Spaced Out’ quiet area was used by many of the young people under the umbrella canopy of a glowing solar system for a quiet few minutes and planetary discussion. Even our menu was given a celestial makeover with dishes such as Black Hole Breakfast, Gibbous Grub, Moon Rock Meatballs, Radiant Wraps and Cosmic Cocoa.
As with any structured learning, our Scouting programme sets out requirements for all ages, making a balance of activities that not only cover traditional outdoor pursuits but a full range of interests and activities. From learning the names of planets to making a scale model of the solar system, or from knowing what to look for in the night sky to building our own satellite dishes…it’s all part of the Scouting programme.
During a ‘Top Secret’ briefing, the group was told of their involvement in the Principia Rocket Science project with RHS Gardening for Schools. We are so excited to know that Tim will be looking after rocket seeds on the ISS that will be making their way to us in Spring 2016, to grow and add our results into the national database.
We’ll be enhancing our Space Diary use with Principia materials such as Mission X: Train like an Astronaut and Heston Blumenthal’s Design a Space Dinner as resources for diet, healthy eating, exercise, gardening and scientist/experiment badge work, whilst completing the 250 mile Space to Earth challenge during our hikes and expeditions. Our Scout programme links perfectly with the Space Diary chapters to inspire another generation into scouting, science and space exploration.
On camp, we had a ‘Scouts’ Own’ time allocated for reflection and spiritual thought. We talked about Tim, his hard work and perseverance, just two of the many positive qualities that have led to his incredible mission. We also thought about Rick Mastracchio, a NASA engineer whose applications to be an astronaut were repeatedly knocked back. Rick did finally make it to space nine years after his first application, because he refused to give up on his dream. We became confident of opportunities still to come, hopeful that whatever our dreams, whatever we already know, there is always something new to be found if we are brave enough to go and look for it, while recognising that it will take boundless enthusiasm and determination to get us there.
“If you work hard, aim high and follow your dreams then you can achieve what you set out to do.” Tim Peake, November 2015
Anything worth having may not be achieved in one giant leap, but through many small steps. It is reputed to be lonely up in space but we are going to have tremendous company taking our first mission steps, proudly alongside our very own rocket man, Tim Peake, using our Principia Space Diaries.
Beaver Section Leader
27th Lincoln Scout Group
We are thrilled to announce that the UK Space Agency/ESA have extended funding of the Principia Space Diary project, doubling the number of UK primary school students who will receive copies of the book. That’s twice as many space apprentices, and twice as much fun!
We launched the Principia Space Diary in October with the aim of registering 15,000 UK school kids. One month later we are celebrating sign-ups for 30,000 children to participate in this project. What an amazing response from schools across the UK who have shown such enthusiasm for this and other Principia projects.Sign up for the Principia Space Diary project
For those not yet familiar with Principia, this is the name for British ESA astronaut Tim Peake’s mission to the International Space Station. Tim launches on 15th December and has worked closely with the UK Space Agency, ESERO Schools Network and the ESA to develop a range of educational outreach programmes to engage children and young people. Find out more and get involved here: http://principia.org.uk/
Our own Principia project is the Principia Mission Space Diary that allows primary-aged children to document Tim’s journey and work their way through a space apprenticeship. Schools who signed up before today will receive printed books, delivered to them before Tim’s launch on the 15th December.
Anyone who registers from today onwards (including schools, home educators, community clubs, after-school programmes etc) will automatically register for the online version of the programme, giving you exclusive access to the book in PDF form to download and print yourself.
This is a STEM-literacy project written by author Lucy Hawking and Professor Peter McOwan from Queen Mary University of London. It presents complex ideas is a simple, visual way and is designed to strengthen science, literacy, visual literacy and numeracy skills; expose children to the breadth of careers in the space science sector; help them learn about themselves; and make sure they have fun. Feel free to contact the publisher, Kristen Harrison (email@example.com), if you’d like more detail about our methodology.
If you haven’t already signed up, visit principiaspacediary.org.
This is your chance to create a lasting memory of Tim’s historical journey.
15,000 schoolchildren invited to write and draw their way into space with British European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Tim Peake.
Lucy Hawking and Curved House Kids have launched a new UK Space Agency-funded STEM literacy project to get 500 primary schools involved in ESA astronaut Tim Peake’s mission to the ISS. Tim’s mission, called Principia, blasts off with a launch in December from the Russian spaceport at Baikonur, Kazakhstan. As Tim lifts off, school students will follow his mission by creating a personalised log book, the Principia Mission Space Diary.
“Through imagination, scientific research and creative writing, we are all going into space with Tim Peake as he makes his journey to the International Space Station.”
With scientific and puzzle-creating support from Professor Peter McOwan and the Centre for Public Engagement at Queen Mary University of London, Lucy Hawking and the team have devised a fully illustrated activity book. The book is packed with activities that inspire children to read, write, draw, research, experiment and problem-solve while strengthening STEM, literacy and visual literacy learning.
In video clips included with the programme, science communicators and experts such as Stephen Hawking, Carol Vorderman, Dallas Campbell will offer their views and insights to help the students complete their monthly mission challenges. These videos are filmed among the world-leading collections at London’s Science Museum.
Curved House Kids publisher Kristen Harrison says:
“The Space Diary is full of visual activities and we hope this creative, interactive approach will encourage more children to get involved in Tim’s mission. Students will be learning about space and science while forging a love of books at the same time.”
The Principia Mission Space Diary is one of nine projects to be awarded funding by the UK Space Agency, as part of a scheme to support educational outreach associated with Tim Peake’s mission.
Jeremy Curtis, Head of Education at the UK Space Agency, says:
“We’re delighted to support another project that brings space and Tim’s mission to creative young people around the UK. We hope that schools and students will get involved and take advantage of this unique opportunity to learn new skills as they follow an astronaut’s adventure.”
Hawking and illustrator Ben Hawkes launch the project today with a school event at Islington Central Library as part of World Space Week. About 60 students from two local primary schools will test the content of the Space Diary during a 90-minute Astronaut Bootcamp.
For other schools wanting to get involved, the website is now open for sign-ups and all primary schools in the UK are invited to register at principiaspacediary.org to receive free copies for up to two classes (60 students). Books will be delivered in the first week of December. Schools will then have access to an online portal releasing new video content, teacher guides and resources for six months worth of activities. This programme is free but places are limited to the first 500 schools to sign up, so be quick!
NOTES TO EDITORS
About Lucy Hawking (www.lucyhawking.com)
Lucy Hawking is a British author who works with scientists to write adventure stories about their research for primary school aged audiences. Lucy’s books, the George series, combine story telling with science and give young readers an exciting and entertaining introduction to the world of science and maths. An Oxford graduate, Lucy started her writing career in journalism and worked for British newspapers, radio and magazines before becoming a published author. The George series of books is published in over 40 languages and is now in production as an animated television series with DHX Media. Lucy has been recognised for her work in science and education with several awards – she won the Sappio Prize for Popularizing Science in Rome 2008 and the UNSW Medal 2015 for Science Communication and was awarded a Doctorate in Science by Queen Mary University of London in July 2015. Lucy has travelled the world giving talks about science to young audiences. She has frequently featured on television and radio, both as a subject and as a interviewer. Lucy is a trustee of the Autism Research Foundation, supporting scientific research into the condition of autism.
About Curved House Kids (www.curvedhousekids.com)
Curved House Kids has a simple mission: improve literacy levels among digital-native children by creating books that reflect the world these children are entering– a world that is visual, interactive and full of tools that allow individuals to create. All of the Curved House Kids books and workshops empower children to make their own books – in print, digitally or both, and in doing so they nurture the instinctive visual literacy skills that digital native children possess. Making children part of the creative process ensures that they form a strong bond with books and an understanding for how reading, writing and drawing can positively impact their lives. Curved House Kids founder Kristen Harrison is a former Penguin editor who now runs publishing and design agency The Curved House, alongside Curved House Kids. She sits on the board of the International Visual Literacy Association and holds a Masters in Communications.
About Peter McOwan (QMUL)
Peter McOwan is a Professor of Computer Science at Queen Mary University of London and Vice Principal (VP) for Public Engagement. His research interests are in human perception, artificial intelligence and robotics. He is a space enthusiast and amateur magician and has used these talents successfully in a number of outreach projects, from our-space.org which charts computer games developer Richard Garriott’s adventures in space, to The Manual of Mathematical Magic, where he teaches fundamental mathematical and computing principles through simple magic trick. He is also the co-founder of the innovative cs4fn project (cs4fn.org) and holds a HEA National Teaching Fellowship award. Peter was also awarded the IET Mountbatten Medal in 2011 for his work in public engagement. In his role as VP he also oversees and champions all the College’s outreach activities created the College’s Centre for Public Engagement.
About Principia (principia.org.uk)
Astronaut Tim Peake will begin his five-month mission on the International Space Station in December 2015, becoming the first British ESA astronaut to visit the station. His mission is called ‘Principia’ and together with the UKSA and ESA, Tim has a number of educational outreach activities associated with the mission, designed to get children and young people engaged in STEM learning.
Tim will be involved in many experiments aboard the ISS during his mission. Research in space crosses many different subjects – the unique environment of the ISS offers a great opportunity to investigate novel materials, life in space, the human body, fluid physics, new technologies and many other things. Through the Principia educational activities, students have the opportunity to engage in a rage of related activities.
About UK Space Agency (http://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/uk-space-agency)
The UK Space Agency is at the heart of UK efforts to explore and benefit from space. It is responsible for all strategic decisions on the UK civil space programme and provides a clear, single voice for UK space ambitions.
The Agency is responsible for ensuring that the UK retains and grows a strategic capability in the space-based systems, technologies, science and applications. It leads the UK’s civil space programme in order to win sustainable economic growth, secure new scientific knowledge and provide benefits to all citizens.
The UK Space Agency
- Co-ordinates UK civil space activity
- Encourages academic research
- Supports the UK space industry
- Raises the profile of UK space activities at home and abroad
- Increases understanding of space science and its practical benefits
- Inspires our next generation of UK scientists and engineers
- Licences the launch and operation of UK spacecraft
- Promotes co-operation and participation in the European Space programme
About the European Space Agency (www.esa.int)
The European Space Agency (ESA) provides Europe’s gateway to space.
ESA is an intergovernmental organisation, created in 1975, with the mission to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space delivers benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.
ESA has 21 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, of whom 19 are Member States of the EU.
One other Member State of the EU, Hungary, has signed the Accession Agreement to the ESA Convention and, upon ratification, will soon become the 22nd ESA Member State.
ESA has established formal cooperation with seven other Member States of the EU.
Canada takes part in some ESA programmes under a Cooperation Agreement. ESA is also working with the EU on implementing the Galileo and Copernicus programmes.
By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, ESA can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country.
ESA develops the launchers, spacecraft and ground facilities needed to keep Europe at the forefront of global space activities. Today, it develops and launches satellites for Earth observation, navigation, telecommunications and astronomy, sends probes to the far reaches of the Solar System and cooperates in the human exploration of space.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION AND ENQUIRIES
Curved House Kids
Kristen Harrison (Publisher)
Mob +44 7594 262 688 or +49 176 876 02770
Queen Mary University of London
Head of Public Relations
UK Space Agency
Tel 01793 41 8069
Mob 07770 276 721