I had the great pleasure of doing two workshops for Louisburgh National School. Solar System Explorers presents our solar system with its mother star in the middle and a peep at a few spacecraft exploring on our behalf. Extending into drawing Jupiter with its features and connections to space missions.
Jupiter and JUICE
The 6th class pupils participated in the first workshop, all eager to listen and draw. After our run through our solar system, we created a Jupiter with the JUICE spacecraft on its way to the planet. I brought a large drawing board and drew Jupiter; the children followed, learning as we went along. They loved the fact that it is a solar-powered craft able to suck power out of our sun, which is very far away. Excellent notated drawings were produced by these attentive 11 and 12 year olds. These workshops become both a drawing lesson and a deeper explanation of our place in space. Any Irish connections to space missions are mentioned, including the upcoming Eirsat 1, which will launch on December 1st 2023. This will be Ireland’s first satellite.
Jupiter and Europa
The following morning, second and third classes took part. It is a small school; the teacher has both classes simultaneously. There were so many questions from these little kids that it was a task to get to the end of the presentation. But all were paying attention and involved on several levels. Our task this time was to draw Jupiter with its belts, zones and great red spot. This was the same for the 6th class, the difference being we drew Jupiters moon Europa near the planet. The Europa Clipper it is due to launch in 2024. As an added surprise, I had sent their school’s name to onboard the spacecraft. This really got them going, and their enthusiasm for drawing was further energised.
Carrots on Mars
During the presentation, I mentioned that Mars, like our moon, is a target for humans to land on again and stay on. A giant leap in exploration involving orbiting space stations and food growing. One little lad asked me, “How will they grow carrots on Mars or the moon”? He was very keen to know, so I explained that process in the simplest way possible. Plus, I told him that he, like any other boy or girl, can decide he wants to work in jobs related to space exploration. All they need to do is stick with their learning, do their homework and read about the subjects that interest them. Ireland already uses hydroponic growing methods for vegetables that involve a similar process to planed space-growing methods. I told the children they may never get into space. However they can aim to work on the Earth designing for and supporting space exploration.
Jupiter by Eyeball
Because Jupiter is easy to see by eye this winter, I made a little map for each of them to become space explorers with their own eyes. The map contained a few facts on the planet and a small map showing Taurus, the Pleiades and Jupiter. All the children attending both workshops went home with the maps and The Universe is My Playground stickers. The 6th class went home with the last of my JUICE stickers from ESA and Thinking Big – Aiming High stickers from ESO. Both classes got lovely big posters showing the ESA spacecraft in our solar system on one side and the ESA’s fleet of spacecraft looking at the Universe.
All the drawings (52) went on exhibition in the school. Both teachers were great to do that as it must have taken some time to do. You can send your name on the Europa Clipper here, deadline December 31st 2023. https://europa.nasa.gov/message-in-a-bottle/sign-on/