Section 5 : From Earth to the stars - using models

Key Focus Question: How can you use models to help pupils develop their understanding of the universe?

Keywords: models; storytelling; stimulation; sun; moon; solar system

Learning outcomes

By the end of this section, you will have:

  • used different models to help pupils develop their understanding of the Earth in space;
  • used brainstorming, observation and model building to explore pupils’ own ideas about the universe;
  • explored storytelling as a way of encouraging pupils in the study of space.


What is meant by a year? What shape is the Earth? What do we mean by ‘the sun rising’?

Helping pupils understand how their home, the Earth, fits into the wider environment of our solar system is not easy because hands-on experiences and visits are not possible. But we can use models to help our pupils understand the key scientific ideas.

This section aims to develop your skills in using models to explore night and day, the phases of the moon and our solar system. These teaching models include physical models (built out of everyday materials), diagrams and computer simulations to help your pupils understand the relative sizes, positions and movements of bodies in our solar system.

1. Using models to explore night and day