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Teaching Primary Science: Human Spaceflight

Learn how to use the topic of human spaceflight to excite and engage your pupils across the primary science curriculum.

Teaching Primary Science: Human Spaceflight
  • Duration3 weeks
  • Weekly study3 hours
  • LearnFree
  • Extra BenefitsFrom $59Find out more

Take your pupils into orbit by using space for primary science learning

From knowing the properties and uses of the materials required for an astronaut’s spacesuit to having an understanding of diet and exercise in order to keep an astronaut healthy–human spaceflight is a rich context for learning.

On this course, you will learn how keeping humans alive in space and how our view of the Earth from space can be linked to the primary curriculum.

You will discover a variety of topics in the primary science curriculum where you can use the theme of space to engage pupils, including the STEM subjects and cross-curricular links to numeracy and literacy.


  • Week 1

    From 16 Mar 2020

    The human body in space

    • Life on the International Space Station

      By the end of this activity, you will have learnt about what it's like for astronauts on the ISS and discover some of the activities that they perform.

    • Gravity and orbits

      In this activity, we'll explore ideas and misconceptions around the effects of gravity in space.

    • The effects of space on the human body

      In this activity, you will learn about how astronauts train for space and the effects of space on their bodies.

    • Training to prepare for life in space

      This activity will give you some examples of the training that astronauts must complete to train for life in space.

    • Food and nutrition in space

      In this activity, you will learn about the types of food astronauts eat in space, and the importance of them maintaining a healthy diet.

    • Reviewing the week

      You've explored subject knowledge, resources and ideas for teaching. Don't worry if you haven't completed everything yet, you can always revisit the steps from this week.

  • Week 2

    From 23 Mar 2020

    Materials in space

    • Space suits

      This week we will be focusing on materials through the context of space. Why are materials and their properties so important for humans in space?

    • Protection against UV light

      In this activity, you will learn about the electromagnetic spectrum of light and investigate how we can protect astronauts from harmful ultraviolet light.

    • Reviewing the week

      Put one of the ideas from the course so far into practice and take a moment to complete your reflection grid.

  • Week 3

    From 30 Mar 2020

    Looking back at the Earth

    • The Earth from space

      In this activity, we'll be looking focusing on images taken of the Earth from space and how we can use them in the classroom.

    • How do we use Earth observation data?

      In this activity, we will look at the many ways that the data from Earth observation satellites can be used across the globe

    • Reviewing your development on this course

      For the final part of the course, share your activity plans and take part in the course Q&A.

When would you like to start?

Most FutureLearn courses run multiple times. Every run of a course has a set start date but you can join it and work through it after it starts. Find out more

  • Available now

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Identify opportunities across the curriculum to use space as a context for learning.
  • Engage children in practical activities using the context of human spaceflight.
  • Design lessons that show science in an applied context.
  • Identify careers that link in to the space industry.
  • Contribute to shared resources that use space as a context.

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for primary school teachers of pupils aged 7-11 years old.

Who will you learn with?

ESERO-UK Teacher Fellow, working for STEM Learning, York. Using the context of space to inspire STEM teaching and learning. Teacher of physics, satellite engineer, father of two.

I spent 10 years working as a primary classroom teacher, 7 as a science subject leader. I've also supported schools as a leading science teacher before joining STEM learning as a primary specialist.

Who developed the course?

National STEM Learning Centre

The National STEM Learning Centre provides world-class professional development activities and resources to support the teaching of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects.


ESERO-UK, also known as the UK space education office, provides free resources, support and information for teachers to enhance the teaching and learning of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) using space as a context.

Join this course

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  • Access to this course for 5 weeks


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  • Access to this course for as long as it’s on FutureLearn
  • A print and digital Certificate of Achievement once you’re eligible

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