Exploring the Solar System


What the resource is:
The BBC has archived sections from its TV programmes about the solar system and embedded them in this truly magnificent website. The site is arranged over seven sets of topics (sun and planets (9 topics); moons (19); other bodies (5); ‘highlights' (8); space missions (37); astronauts (8); scientists (10)). Each of these 'sets' has its own page with hot links to the individual topics and a brief overview with photographs (mostly from NASA). Each topic (many are double referenced so there are fewer than the 96 this suggests!) also has its overview page with images and some additional text provided by Wikipedia and here we find the video clips, often several for each topic. Each page also has hot links to other web resources.

The clips are usually extracts of just a few minutes, from BBC News, Horizon, The Sky at Night, The Planets Revisited, Wonders of the Solar System etc., and are ideal for showing on the whiteboard to illustrate one particular point during a lesson - far easier than trying to find the right point in a DVD or VHS full programme.



Here are some examples:


Horizon - "Simulating life on the Moon" 2.50 A NASA replica Moon base to simulate conditions future astronauts will face. http://www.bbc.co.uk/solarsystem/moons/moon#p006gly1

Sky at Night - 17 Century "Robert Hooke models the Moon": 2mins 26 sec clip of Patrick Moore watching lunar craters being made (firing lead bullets into wet clay). http://www.bbc.co.uk/solarsystem/moons/moon#p006glrx

The Planets Revisited - Clyde Tombaugh discovers Pluto in 1930 - it remained a planet till 2006. http://www.bbc.co.uk/solarsystem/other_solar_system_bodies/pluto#p005y0lq

BBC News at One - Messenger arrives at Mercury 1.35: Christine McGourty and Alison Boyle discuss the Messenger flyby of Mercury in January 2008. http://www.bbc.co.uk/solarsystem/sun_and_planets/mercury_%28planet%29#p006cypc

Also at http://www.bbc.co.uk/solarsystem/space_missions/messenger#p006cypc

Wonders of the Solar System - The Late Heavy Bombardment 4.04:  Prof Brian Cox explains how the gas giants may have caused bombardment in the inner Solar System 3.6 billion years ago.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/solarsystem/other_solar_system_bodies/asteroid#p006x4v3

The aims of the resource: 
This is a beautifully illustrated index to the video resources of the BBC relating to the Solar System; useful for those doing personal research and for teachers to find video clips quickly and easily for use in class.

Key findings or focus: 
To make whole programmes relating to the solar system available on-line would be relatively straightforward, but what the BBC have done here is to divide up each programme into short extracts and then index these from a series of 'solar system' web pages containing basic information about a particular aspect of the solar system.

The quality, authority and credibility of the resource from your subject perspective in relation to ITE: 
This website comes with video extracts from the BBC, with supporting images mainly from NASA and text from Wikipedia. An authoritative resource for busy teachers.

The implications for ITE tutors/mentors - when and how it could have best impact: 
The Earth and beyond still features in the science curriculum, and this website provides a perfect, easy to use resource for Key Stages 2, 3, 4 and 5. A video clip, a few minutes long, easily found and displayed on the interactive white board, provides just the impact a teacher (or teacher trainer) needs to bring their topic alive.

The relevance to ITE students - how and why it has importance:
ITE students will find this website invaluable as a teaching resource for teaching The Earth and Beyond. Many of the clips are suitable for Key stage 2, but the site as a whole is more suitable for secondary science. Perhaps some clips are best for students' self study by those who have developed a personal interest in astronomy.


Reviewed by:

Dr Keith Ross


Related resources:

The Sci-tutors website has an article on how to teach aspects of The Earth and Beyond