The Sun|trek section most directly relevant to the National Curriculum Programme of Study for KS3 (11 - 14 year olds) (/www.standards.dfee.gov.uk/keystage3/) is the Earth and Beyond, which contains subsections on the spinning Earth, the seasons, day and night, timezones, the Moon and the solar system. The science strand of the KS3 strategy encourages schools to follow a pattern of progression thought to help in building up understanding of the key ideas in science. Following this would mean that work about the solar system, including ideas about eclipses (Sun|trek section the Hot Solar Atmosphere: Eclipses), descriptions of the planets etc. would be covered in year 7 (11-12 year olds).
The concept of the Sun as our main energy source, the greenhouse effect and the role of renewable energy sources are discussed in the Sun|trek section – the Earth and Beyond: Energy. Detailed ideas about gravity, how weight changes on different planets, orbits, satellites and space travel (Sun|trek section Solar Spacecraft) are more relevant to year 9 (13 – 14 year olds). The Sun as a Star section covers the Sun in the context of other stars, which is also covered at KS4.
Many other scientific concepts, such as electromagnetic radiation, magnetic fields, sound waves, gravity, energy transfer, atoms, ions and spectra are covered in various Sun|trek sections. Amazing images and movies from the Sun|trek gallery can be used to introduce and illustrate these concepts in an engaging way. Some of the Sun|trek sections go beyond the knowledge required for KS3, parts are even outside the requirements for GCSE Science at KS4. However, these sections may well be of interest to many students at both KS3 and 4, as space is always a topic where interest levels are high, and often students want to go beyond the bare bones of the curriculum. For those students with a real sense of endeavour, the Factary provides a wealth of additional facts and interesting information.
The new 21st Century Science course provides an exciting challenge for teachers and students. The Earth and the Universe part explores such topics as the Earth’s magnetism discussed in Sun|trek section Sun Earth Connection: Earth under attack. Electromagnetic Radiation and Observing Our Universe are also key elements of the course including discussions of the wave properties of light, eclipses, telescopes, spectra and the chemical composition of stars. These topics are illustrated in several Sun|trek sections, in particular the Hot Solar Atmosphere: Fingerprints and the lifecycle of stars (Sun|trek section the Sun as a Star). What better way to bring the textbooks to life than to use REAL UV and X-ray observations of our own star, the Sun, taken from space?
Students are encouraged to learn how scientists think and work. In Sun|trek they are introduced to historical scientists, but more importantly to young Solar Guides who say a bit about themselves and how they became interested in astronomy.