School pupils learn about the stars from home with new dance scheme

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School children hoping to look up to the stars and discover more about space are being offered a chance to do so in lockdown with free astronomy resources from UCLan.

Parents of primary school children can keep their little ones entertained during the national lockdown with a free scheme that combines astronomy and dance together, with dancer Lucy Starkey.

Aimed at assisting teachers and parents, the new six-week scheme of work features interactive educational videos, which were filmed at the University’s Alston Observatory, and classroom investigations that can be completed using household items.

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The programme challenges traditional science-learning and uses dance to engage the youngsters with the curiosity and excitement of scientific ideas.

UCLan astronomer Dr Joanne Pledger, UCLanDance Co-course leader Ruth Spencer and Artist in Residence Lucy Starkey have collaborated to bring the learning of science and dance together in the ‘Into Our Skies: Space in Schools’ scheme.

Dr Pledger said: “The three interactive videos and learning resources we’ve created are closely aligned with national curriculum guidelines meaning teachers and parents can provide practical opportunities for pupils engage in concepts such as The Solar System, orbits and the rotation of the Earth.

“As well as being a great help for teachers at a time when they’re being stretched by the impact of this current lockdown, the interactive dance videos can also help give parents some time to focus on their own work commitments while overseeing their child’s engagement with learning rather than have to teach it.”

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The resources have been backed by Sarah Connon, Science Learning Partnership Lead for Lancashire and Cumbria.

Behind the scenes on the Into Our Skies: Space in Schools project, with Dr Joanne PledgerBehind the scenes on the Into Our Skies: Space in Schools project, with Dr Joanne Pledger
Behind the scenes on the Into Our Skies: Space in Schools project, with Dr Joanne Pledger

The Ashton Community Science College Assistant Headteacher said: “The recently released project composes of an amazing set of resources for teachers to engage and motivate students by delivering Earth and Space through dance.

“Not only will they work in the classroom, but also as a remote package for students self-isolating or as an extracurricular activity to ensure pupils are keeping their minds healthy with some exercise.”

Funding for the project came from a £15,000 grant from the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Public Engagement Fund.

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The project is inspired by the solo show ‘Into Our Skies’ created by Lucy and has been supported by UCLanDance.

The free scheme of work can be accessed by registering online here.

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