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One of our scientists is missing

  • Key Stage 3
  • Topical

Type: Activity
Learning Strategy: Case study
Topic: Solar System

This activity shows how space science knowledge can be applied to solving problems, and to career routes in the industry. Students investigate the disappearance of a scientists on a mission, by deciphering various information sources.

Get involved: Bespoke STEM careers CPD workshops are available in school – please contact the STEM Careers project at: [email protected]

Published: 14th April 2010
Reviews & Comments: 4

Learning objectives

Students interpret qualitative and quantitative data about the solar system from a number of sources, to draw a conclusion

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KS3 Science
Key Concepts: Scientific thinking
1.1 (a) Using scientific ideas and models to explain phenomena
(b) Critically analysing and evaluating evidence

Key Processes: Critical understanding of evidence
2.2 (a) Analyse data from a wide range of primary and secondary sources

2.3 (a) Use appropriate methods, including ICT, to communicate scientific information

Range and Content
3.4 The environment, Earth and universe
(b) astronomy and space science provide insight into the nature and observed motions of the sun, moon, stars, planets

Personal, learning and thinking skills
Independent Enquirers)
• consider a range of possible perspectives, causes, explanations and outcomes
• make choices based on evidence from what has been found

Running the activity

Pupils are part of an earth-bound team set the task of interpreting a range of data relating to the solar system/universe. This team includes space scientists/cosmologists, computer and survival experts.
They will work in pairs and use the data they have been supplied plus information from other sources such as books and the internet. The objective is for each pupil to write their own account of the explorer's investigations and possible whereabouts.
The account can be written in whatever form the pupil feels most comfortable, e.g. scientific report, letter to a colleague, newspaper article, etc. These can form a classroom display.
The pupils will have access to information in a variety of forms and they need to interpret what they read and start to put together a 'report' that might give an indication of where the search for the missing scientist might begin.

A concept map to aid understanding and as reference for the rest of the unit can be used as a starter activity, revision exercise or homework before starting this activity. An optional map of the Solar System is provided if needed. Strategies may be needed to adjust the activity for less fluent readers, for example working in a larger group and sharing reading.

News links

Future Morph
To help you find out about space travel and roles that are available already
Science so What So Everything
A campaign run by government to raise general awareness of science in society and there a number of possible future jobs - based on current scientific research projects.
Teachers TV clips
Inviting a STEM ambassador to come in and be interviewed by the pupils choosing careers.
A space scientist
Dr Maggie Aderin Pocock.
Apprentices at Airbus
These stories that show the opportunities for those who want a vocational route.
STEM choices in the space industry
More information about the UK space industry and additional information links.

Reviews & Comments

Write your online review to share your feedback and classroom tips with other teachers. How well does it work, how engaging is it, how did you use it, and how could it be improved?

One of our scientists is missing review

Jun 9th, 2011

1 Star

Essentially seems to be a very poor exercise in identifying the 1 planet beyond Mars that might have water on. Large swathes of the data is also simply wrong. Very disappointed

Reviewer: Ed Gillett

One of our Scientists is Missing

Dec 15th, 2010

4 Star

I did this with a couple of classes and I went well.

Reviewer: Lorain McCann


Oct 25th, 2010

1 Star

When I first saw this I thought it looked really good to use with our Year 9 students, as the basis for a Space Project that will incorporate some of the higher level topics such as moments and pressure. I was disappointed to find that there is so much bad Physics in it, however, that I will be unable to use the student information cards.

Reviewer: Mandi Szuplewski


Jun 8th, 2010

5 Star

I think my students will love it very much, especially the movies. Thanks!

Reviewer: Caleb LO

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