Acting out science

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During Key Stage 2 children increasingly encounter abstract scientific ideas which may not readily lend themselves to practical investigation. Rather than reverting to a worksheet on such occasions, provide children with opportunities to explore tricky concepts and use relevant scientific vocabulary through a variety of role-play activities. From getting inside a circuit to becoming a state of matter; drive children’s learning forward in these enjoyable – and memorable – ways.

Girl football

Earth, Sun and Moon

You will need:
  • Selection of different size balls ranging from a dried pea to a large beach ball
  • Computer chair that rotates on its base
  • Light source such as a spot light or whiteboard projector
  • Globe
  • Ball attached to stick
Method:
  • Provide small groups of children with a selection of different sized balls. Draw attention to the shape and size of each one and tell them to decide which they would choose as appropriate models to represent the Earth, Sun and Moon.
  • Ask pupils to demonstrate the relationship between the three balls and describe any movements they are aware of by walking around each other, holding the balls up and explaining what each one represents.
  • Discuss any misconceptions and allow children time to correct their role plays so that an appropriately sized Earth and Moon are orbiting the Sun at the same time as the Moon is orbiting Earth.
  • Challenge them to demonstrate how often the Moon will orbit Earth in the time it takes the latter to orbit the Sun once.
  • Darken the classroom and set up a spotlight or projector beam to represent the Sun (reminding pupils that they should not look directly at a bright light). Invite a child to sit in the computer chair and hold up a large globe. Ask them to gradually turn their chair around while the rest of the class make observations about which parts of the Earth are facing the ‘Sun’ and which parts are experiencing night-time.
  • Repeat this activity using a ball attached to a stick to demonstrate the phases of the Moon. As the chair is turned around, varying amounts of the Moon’s surface will be illuminated.
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