The Science Show uses a dialogue format to create an engaging narrative about a mission to Mars, a mission that all of the students are working together to try and achieve. Through the narrative and a series of experiments and demonstrations, students will learn about the wide range of jobs within the space sector, and by asking the students questions like “What would you like to work with as an adult?” and by putting the answers in perspective to space-related careers, we want to demonstrate to the students that there are many different types of career paths related to space, and a career in the space sector is a possibility.
The students will also have the opportunity to touch some of the materials from the experiments used in the science show, allowing the students to engage with the topic in a sensory way. To some of the students, this is a good method to use for engaging and maintaining their interest.
These Science Shows are done by two presenters. These presenters are students or newly educated Astro-scientists, and also act as role models, offering the students an opportunity to meet future Astro-employees and to ask questions. Throughout the science show, the presenters talk about their own educational background, study choices, and why they are passionate about working with space.
The science show is built up around the narrative of creating a mission to Mars. We start by brainstorming about what planet humans could be suitable to travel to; this is as a continuation of the 1st interventions theme focus. From this brainstorm, it is decided together that the mission should focus on travelling to Mars. This is the focal theme of the 3rd intervention.
The first experiment that is demonstrated by the presenter is about how a rocket is built. By using a whoosh bottle, we show how a rocket works. Now that we have “launched our rocket”, we are now on our way to Mars.
The second experiment shows the importance of having a protective shield on the spacecraft when travelling through the atmosphere of Mars to land. The protective shield is portrayed using a kitchen cloth that has been soaked in a mixture of saltwater and methylated spirit. The presenters then attempt to set the kitchen cloth on fire, showing how the liquid solution protects the cloth. Although it might appear that the cloth is burnt, is it clear on closer inspection that only the liquid on the outside has burnt, and the kitchen cloth is completely intact with no burns, and the salt remains on its surface.
In the third experiment, we use a vacuum machine to show how water and the liquids in our bodies start boiling when exposed to low air pressure, and how air and human lungs will expand in space within low gravity environments. This experiment demonstrates the importance of space suits and the type of professionals needed to create a spacesuit.
The fourth experiment investigates the pH value of Martian soil and compares it to the soil on Earth, to help us determine whether it is possible to grow crops on Mars.
The firth experiment is used to display how we can use geology to look at rocks underground on Mars, and possibly find liquid water that can be used to water our crops. This is done by talking about the geology and the stratification of rock layers on a planet. We show this by mixing different types of liquid into a flask, as the liquid settles, the materials divide themselves according to how dense they are. The materials used in this demonstration are oil, washing-up liquid and methylated spirit.
As a continuation to the fifth experiment, we talk about possible sources of liquid water on Mars, in the sixth and final experiment, we show how a cloud on Mars looks by creating a dry ice cloud. This final experiment finishes off the science show with a great “wow effect”, while we summarize our mission to Mars and talk about what the students will be doing in the 3rd intervention, where they will design their very own Mars mission in groups.
Each experiment in the science show is put into perspective by talking about space-related careers and the professionals who work on designing rockets and space suits, growing crops on Mars and investigating Martian soil geology.
After the science show, the students can ask the presenters further questions about the topics they were interested in. This allows the presenters to act as potential role models, and let the students engage in further dialogue if they wish to.
Students will learn about a variety of subjects that are related to a mission to Mars. These include stratification of materials on planets, chemical reactions in low gravity, pH value, and plant environment.
Students will link the experiments and the narrative to real-life careers within the space sector.
This activity is conducted within one of the teaching rooms at the Plantarium DK, using resources that are available to the facilitators to conduct demonstrations and tell the story behind the show.
However, with some planning, an activity like this could be conducted within a classroom setting.
Presenters need materials to perform the demonstrations.
Script/programme of activity
09:30 Presenters arrive at the school
09.45-10.15 Preparation of science show
10.30-12.00 Science show including six experiments
Programme of science show:
- Experiment no. 1: Rocket experiment (using a whoosh bottle to initiate the journey to Mars). Followed by a talk about which type of professionals, who design space crafts.
- Experiment no. 2: Vacuum machine (to display what happens to our blood and muscles if we go into space without a spacesuit). Dialogue about which type of professionals are needed to help create a spacesuit.
- Experiments no. 3: Heatshield. This experiment is used to talk about the people who help develop the technologies needed for space missions, such as the heat shield.
- Experiment no. 4: pH value of Martian soil. We compare the pH value of soil from Earth and artificial soil from Mars and discuss which plants could be grown at a Mars basecamp.
- Experiment no. 5: Stratification of materials. Why do we care so much about rocks from space? Well, the layers of rock can actually tell you a lot about the history of the planet. Learn why these layers are created in this experiment.
- Experiement no. 6: Mars cloud. By using dry ice and hot water, we create “Mars clouds”
1 hour and 30 minutes approx, 10 minutes for each experiment and perspective dialogue.
The teachers facilitate the students’ involvement by having the pedagogic responsibility. Teachers are involved in the organising of the activity.
This activity does not in itself involve students’ families, but students are encouraged to talk about their experiences and space-related career paths with their families at home.
In this activity, the science communicators are the experts. They present the educational content and act as potential role models to the students, who can ask possible future astro-employees any questions they have.
Key elements for inclusivenes
The science show uses the “wow effect” by making science experiments to create interest and enthusiasm for space-related science and careers. Presenters have an important role in the science show as role models for the students. Here, the students personally meet a possible, future astro-employee.
This activity includes all groups of students. The presenters have a focus on making sure all students are engaged by encouraging the students to be active in the dialogue.
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