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Year 5 get Lost in Space

How does Earth compare to other planets in the Solar System? Year 5 have been pondering this question and coding Spheros to work out how each planet orbits around the Sun.

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Here on Earth, we tend to think we are the centre of the Universe, but as Year 5 discovered, we’re not!

Conducting their own research, they found out that our Solar System is made up of our star - the Sun - and the celestial objects that are bound to it by its gravity. This includes eight planets, five officially recognised dwarf planets, 173 known moons, and billions of small bodies like asteroids, comets and meteoroids that are also floating around in space. When it comes to the eight planets, they learnt that there’s a definite pecking order, starting with Mercury and followed by Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and finally, Neptune.

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Working in the Hall and the Small Gym and using a basketball as a substitute for the Sun, the students divided themselves up into planets and began coding their Spheros, so that each one orbited the Sun in the correct order of the Solar System.

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They looked at where it lies in relation to the Sun and factored in its size in order to work out how much time their particular planet would take to revolve around the Sun.

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It was much harder than it looked and resulted in a few cosmic collisions!

To better comprehend space and time in all its jaw-dropping vastness, Year 5 conducted their own research to discover key features about each planet. They found out why Aboriginal people have been described as 'the world's first astronomers'. They learnt that the night sky has long served as a calendar for Aboriginal people, indicating when the seasons are shifting and when certain foods are available. They also used their observations of the night sky to inform their decision-making and survive the Australian landscape. For example, the Yolngu people in Arnhem Land, have dreaming stories that explain tides, eclipses, the rising and setting of the Sun and Moon, and the changing positions of rising stars and planets throughout the year.

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Year 5’s inquiry into the Solar System led to rich discussion about recent developments in astronomy, space and planetary science. For example, they discussed things like black holes, space travel and whether there is life on Mars.

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Thanks to this inquiry-based project, Year 5 students can now look up at the night sky and identify familiar groups of stars, name planets and see the orbital path followed by Earth. They’ve learnt more about Aboriginal people’s ingenuity. And of course, they’ve improved their coding skills too.

Bravo Year 5!