Our Place in the Universe

July 05, 2018 at 10:40 AM

‘Wherever we live in the world, the movement of the Earth affects us.’

As part of their Science learning enquiry based on the solar system and galaxies, our boys in Year 2 have been contemplating the universe and their place within it. 

Earth, our home planet, is the only known planet to support life for millions of people as well as millions of species of animal and plant life. Under a thin layer of atmosphere, that separates us from the void of space beyond, everything we need to survive is provided – air, inhabitable land, food sources, water, warmth and fellow human beings – and animals - for company. 

To back up their enquiry, they paid a visit to the Star Dome at Auckland Observatory in Cornwall Park, firstly spending time with Star Dome’s educator in the Observatory classroom. It soon became apparent that this was an area of learning that had engaged the boys! The educator was most impressed as they reeled off the names of the planets in order of their distance from the sun, and articulated the difference between the ‘rocky midgets’ (Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars), ‘gassy giants (Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus) and the ‘dwarf planet,’ Pluto. 

The Observatory has some fantastic displays related to space travel and with an iPad supplied to each small group, the boys toured the exhibits to answer a number of questions within an allocated time frame. 

The session finished in the immersive 360-degree Planetarium, reclined back on seats to view a presentation as fictional extra-terrestrials explored the planets for an ideal holiday destination, finally choosing earth, as despite its ‘instability’ in earthquake prone and volcanic fields, it is by far the most attractive planet to sustain life - and enjoy a break! The show concluded with a close look at the night sky over Auckland to locate each of the planets and the Matariki cluster. 

The moon, the sun, planets and stars in the distant universe have long excited the imagination and there are few of ‘that certain age’ that will forget the black and white grainy sight of man first landing on the moon. Mars is in our sights and who knows, maybe one of our Year 2 boys may have had his curiosity piqued today to follow Old Collegian, Mana Vautier to Nasa to pursue the dream of space exploration!

Our sincere thanks to the parents who joined the visit to help supervise the children. Your time was greatly appreciated.

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