Two small pieces of glass

Throughout history humans have gazed up at the stars and wondered how did they come into being, and how big is the universe? This fascination with the universe has endured through the ages and driven mankind to overcome unimaginable obstacles to travel into space and explore its hidden mysteries.

Pupils will experience the stars in this exciting planetarium show as they learn about telescopes, how they work and how important they have been in unravelling these mysteries. Then they can get hands-on in our astronaut challenge activity.

Workshop details

It is through millennia of astronomical study and technological advances that we are able to travel into space and explore its hidden mysteries today.

The show begins with two teenagers attending a star party and we learn with them how telescopes work, looking at reflection, refraction and resolution. We investigate the history of the telescope, how it has developed and changed over the centuries leading to amazing discoveries.

Pupils will learn how we can see events from millions of years ago today and how looking back in time helps us work out why the universe is the way it is and what the future of the universe may look like.

Pupils will also gain insight into how observatories use telescopes to explore deep space and expand our understanding of our own place in space.

Finally we are introduced to some of the current areas of research and how the next generation of telescopes may help resolve these puzzles.

Following the show the class will take part in a very important mission lead by ground control (our education demonstrator): to design a spacesuit for their astronaut to wear. Using scientific lines of enquiry to problem solve, pupils will uncover the science behind how a spacesuit is made. They will learn about the importance of oxygen, water and gravity to preserve human life and will have to solve the problem of breathing, drinking and even going to the toilet in space! Pupils will have the opportunity to handle objects like those used by Tim Peake on his mission to the International Space Station, such as a Sokol flying suit and helmet.

This workshop offers a unique way for the pupils to learn about the elements that make up life and the incredible advances in technology that allow us to explore the workings of our solar system and beyond. 

Practical information for your visit

We need adult help to ensure the pupils have the best possible experience and to ensure the safety of the handling objects. For this reason you must bring at least two adults to this sworkshop.

Please arrive on time for your workshop or we may not be able to run it for you. Please share these notes with your adult helpers before your visit. This will help them to support your pupils have a successful and enjoyable day. 

Image © Pete Carr

Curriculum links


  • describe the movement of the Earth, and other planets, relative to the Sun in the solar system
  • describe the movement of the Moon relative to the Earth
  • describe the Sun, Earth and Moon as approximately spherical bodies 
  • explain that unsupported objects fall towards the Earth because of the force of gravity acting between the Earth and the falling object
  • identify and compare the suitability of a variety of everyday materials, including wood, metal, plastic, glass, brick, rock, paper and cardboard for particular uses
  • recognise that they need light in order to see things and that dark is the absence of light
  • notice that light is reflected from surfaces
  • recognise that light from the sun can be dangerous and that there are ways to protect their eyes
  • recognise that shadows are formed when the light from a light source is blocked by an opaque object


  • the lives of significant individuals in the past who have contributed to national and international achievements


  • pupils should be taught to speak clearly and convey ideas confidently using Standard English. They should learn to justify ideas with reasons.

SMSC – Fundamental British Values

Through participating in this session students are encouraged to think about democracy, individual liberty and tolerance.

  • Individual liberty: Through the participative approach in the session individual liberty is promoted by enabling students to develop their self-knowledge, self-esteem and self-confidence. This also promotes mutual respect as children listen to and begin to respect each others contributions.
  • Mutual respect and tolerance: Learning about Galileo, early astronomers and the work they carried out promotes respect as pupils understand that we would not be where we are today without their work and contributions to science.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

Pupils will:

  • recognise and describe the key components that make up a telescope
  • gain insight into how telescopes work and process light that has travelled from space to the human eyes
  • identify the key features of an astronaut’s space suit and describe what their functions are
  • understand the dangers living in space pose to the human body and how we use advances in technology to combat these dangers


Pupils will:

  • have the opportunity to draw on and share their existing knowledge whilst also being encouraged to absorb and recall new information assimilated throughout the session.
  • use straightforward scientific evidence to answer questions or to support their findings
  • improve their speaking and listening skills through team work
  • extend specialist vocabulary.


Pupils will:

  • be introduced to the work of astronomers
  • learn that today’s knowledge of the universe and advances in space exploration can be traced back to the achievements of individuals and scientific teams of the past both within and beyond living memory
  • appreciate that objects displayed and worked with in the museum are to be treated with respect.


Pupils will:

  • be confident in interpreting information about telescopes.
  • have developed respect and appreciation for the telescopes and space related artefacts on display.
  • see the museum as a resource for scientific research to help understand history
  • see the World Museum as an enjoyable and stimulating place to visit