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Into Our Skies: Space in Schools

Lucy Starkey Dances and UCLan have collaborated to co-create Into Our Skies: Space in Schools. This project, funded by STFC, uses dance to engage KS2 pupils in the Earth and Space topic. Using exciting, creative and educational resources.

Championing a cross-curricular approach and extending the provision of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) in schools. Into Our Skies: Space in Schools is a free 6-week scheme of work closely aligned with the National Curriculum.

The project is run by Dr Joanne Pledger, Lucy Starkey, Ruth Spencer and Lee Affen. A collaborative team of scientists, dancers, educators and composers. Dedicated to inspiring future generations as well as supporting a culture of curiosity and wonder in science and dance.

Want to get involved?

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Our aims and approach

Dance is an active practice that enables us to interpret subjects physically, creatively and intelligently. Using movement as a method of investigation pupils can connect to topics through physical experience.

Science requires us to question what we know and experiment with that truth. By providing hands-on investigations pupils can explore their own ideas freely whilst developing key scientific skills.

We aim to provide imaginative dance and science activities so that young people are empowered to explore Earth and space. Aiming to encourage their independent curiosity and expression. 

We recognise the challenges educators are facing. Therefore, we want to provide easy to use resources, that can make online learning enjoyable for pupils, teachers and parents.

We believe pupils should have access to high quality science and dance resources. We are delighted to offer our complete 6-week scheme which is free to all.

Currently, hosting visits are not possible, but we want to offer a way for schools to connect their pupils with professionals and to continue to nurture interest in these subjects.

We realise that these resources cannot replace the experience of seeing a live performance, participating in a workshop or visiting a working observatory. However, with this project we endeavour to continue our engagement with schools during this time and beyond.

The postponed Into Our Skies: The Show will be rescheduled and the doors of our Alston Observatory will re-open to the public and schools when it is safe to do so. In the meantime, we very much hope you enjoy your journey with our resources. We look forward to seeing you soon.

About our resources

Our interactive educational videos, classroom investigations and teacher support notes adopt a step-by-step approach. We listened to teachers, asking what they would want from the resources. We hope we have developed a scheme that is both useful and accessible for educators with little preparation required.

These resources are designed to be suitable for upper KS2 pupils aged 8-11. But may be useful for a wider age range in certain circumstances.

The team adopted a collaborative approach, combining our wide range of experience and expertise. In order to create interactive, vibrant and scientifically accurate learning resources.

Professional dancer Lucy Starkey hosts the three interactive educational videos with Dr Joanne Pledger delivering “the science bit” to reinforce the scientific focus of the session. Each video features a dynamic soundtrack, composed by Lee Affen, that enhances and supports the science content. The videos all include a warm-up, creative task(s) and cool-down.

The videos can be viewed in any order, however the order we recommend is:

Orbits: Warm up with a game of ‘Asteroid Dodge!’ then investigate the motion of an orbit. Learn the order of the Planets with our original dance mnemonic.

Spheres: Articulate circles in the body, before exploring the 3-dimensional shape of our Earth, Moon and Sun. Moving on to create your own ‘Sphere Sequence’.

Earth’s Rotation: Pupils take on the role of Earth. Investigating the cause and size of shadows, developing a ‘Sun Shadow loop’ that can be performed in duets.

We encourage users to play, pause and rewind our videos, working at their own pace and giving time for creativity. The sessions are designed so that social distancing can be maintained if needed.

The interactive educational videos are accompanied by supporting teacher notes. These are designed to help parents and teachers deliver the content no matter what their experience. The notes break down the sections of each video.

Each segment includes information on the science content being delivered. Including “top tips” on how to facilitate the dance content and things to “notice” and “encourage” in the pupil’s movements. The videos are full of content, some could even be split across two sessions, using the warm-up and cool down each time.

Scientific content of the videos is re-visited and developed in these classroom investigations where pupils become the scientist. Developing their observational skills, pupils carry out practical tasks, take measurements, analyse their results and answer questions posed.

Lesson plans provide teaching questions, a guide to the activity, extension work and links to additional resources. The lesson plans are supported by a complete Power Point presentation to step pupils through the investigation. All sessions are designed using only common household items and can be carried out either in school or as home-learning.

The classroom investigations are:

  • How old are you on Jupiter?
  • Making an Orrery
  • Why does the Moon look different?
  • How do we know the Earth is a sphere?
  • Why do we get day and night?
  • How does the length of a shadow change over one day?

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Meet the team

Lucy Starkey
Lucy Starkey
Lucy Starkey Dances

Lucy Starkey is a performer, choreographer, and the creator of Into Our Skies. She has over 10 years’ experience communicating stories and subjects through high-quality, inspiring dance. She is the director of Lucy Starkey Dances and an artist in residence at UCLanDance.

Joanne Pledger
Dr Joanne Pledger

Dr Joanne Pledger is a senior lecturer in Astrophysics, STFC researcher and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy who believes that a positive learning experience can make STEM subjects accessible to all. Her public engagement work is centred around creating fun and unique ways that people can explore STEM topics and she has a vast experience of working with teachers, charities and organisations to do this.

Ruth Spencer

Ruth is an Independent Dance Artist, Senior Lecturer in Higher Education and Fellow of the Higher Education Academy whose work is deeply rooted in Education and Community Practice. Through a person-centred approach, Ruth’s practice encourages individuals to discover and explore movement in relationship to self and other.

Lee Affen
Lee Affen

Lee Affen is a composer, sound designer and has an extensive record in producing high quality creative content in dance, film and theatre. He is a key collaborator in creative teams, with 20 years of experience in making productions that delight audiences up and down the country.

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