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Out of this World

Sycamore’s STEM Net Visit: Earth, Space and the Universe


On Monday 22nd February 2016, Sycamore class had a visit from Jamie Halls, a STEM Net ambassador, who is an expert in Earth, Space and the Universe. He came to help us with the start of our project and answer some of our tricky questions.


During Jamie’s visit he shared interesting facts about galaxies, the Earth’s orbit, gravitational pull and our solar system. The size of our Earth, solar system, galaxy (the milky way) and the universe (made up of billions of galaxies) were demonstrating using a football, a small ball, a pencil tip and the width of a strand of human hair. He began by discussing the size of the Earth to the moon – using a football (size 5) – to represent the Earth and a plastic ball to represent the book. We learnt that if the Earth was the size of a football, the Sun would be the size of a ferris-wheel in Benson. Gradually, Jamie worked his way up to the football being the Milky Way! The end result showed that we are very small in comparison to everything else. As well as this, Jamie explained about Isaac Newton’s laws of gravity and how the Earth and life was formed.


We were lucky because the STEM Net ambassador helped us understand the difficult scientific explanations for different phenomenon such as black holes, shooting stars and gravitational waves. Here are a few exciting topics we learnt more about:

  • Black holes
  • The speed of light
  • The heat of the Sun and Earth’s core
  • The distance between planets, stars and moons
  • How stars are formed


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This week Sycamore has been looking at the order of the planets within our Solar System and thinking about mnemonics to help us remember the correct order, here is an example: 

My (Mercury)

Very (Venus)

Easy (Earth)

Method (Mars)

Just (Jupiter)

Speeds (Saturn)

Up (Uranus)

Naming (Neptune)

Planets (Pluto - Dwarf Planet)


We also started to consider the size of each planet - we used the scale of 1:1 billion to help us understand the relative size of each planet: 



Actual Diameter (km)

1: 1 Billionth (Scale) Diameter of Planets (cm)


1, 390, 000 km

139 cm


4, 878 km

0.5 cm


12, 100 km

1.2 cm


12, 756 km

1.28 cm

Earth's Moon

3,400 km

0.34 cm


6, 794 km

0.67 cm


142, 984 km

14.3 cm


120, 536 km

12 cm


51, 118 km

5.1 cm


49, 528 km

4.9 cm


2, 246 km 0.24 cm


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During Term 4, Sycamore are learning about Space and how gravity keeps the planets orbiting, around the sun, in our solar system. We also learnt about the planets in the solar system and for homework, we have been challenged to learn more about space (e.g. creating rockets or finding a space song and evaluating it). A mnemonic that Ed came up to help us remember the planets is: 


My Very Expensive Monkey Jumped Safely Under Neptune


By Dylan and Matthew

Rocket Man

On Wednesday 16th March, during our science lesson, Steve (who’s a rocket expert) came into our school and taught us about rockets and also helped us make a miniature rockets. We had the chance to create our own rockets, to keep, out of cardboard, paper and a squidgy top. At first Sycamore gathered in the hall and watched Steve who demonstrated to us many different rockets and showed us how to use them. Next we made our own rockets and tested them on the field, where everyone else in the school, who were on break time, watched us. It was brilliant fun!


This term, our homework is focused on our 'Out of this world' project, we got given a homework cover sheet, where each week we can wisely select one of many tasks to challenge ourselves with.  On the first week many people designed rockets that could fly to Mars (made with things like lego, cardboard and plastic). Other children in Sycamore complete a variety of other tasks, for example, Maths related space board game or a musical task - choosing a piece of music relating to space.


By George and Addison


Here are a few examples: