A Final Message from Earth, to Voyager & the Final Frontier – Lesson Ideas

Have you heard or did you read the news yesterday? Incredibly, the Voyager space-probes, which departed Earth in 1977 and were sent to explore our own solar system, are entering interstellar space. Soon, the two probes will finally lose contact with Earth, but that’s not until us earthlings have their last word (in a certain number of characters of course).

This post will hopefully inspire teachers and children to get involved with this, as well as sharing possible lesson ideas and questions to ask in class. I really hope it’s helpful.

Voyager

Here’s a short video describing some of Voyager’s incredible history and findings so far.


Currently, both Voyager probes are speeding towards interstellar space with one job left – to take a message from humanity as far into space as they can in the hope of encountering intelligent life.

Artist’s concept depicts NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft entering interstellar space, or the space between stars. Interstellar space is dominated by the plasma, or ionized gas, that was ejected by the death of nearby giant stars millions of years ago. The environment inside our solar bubble is dominated by the plasma exhausted by our sun, known as the solar wind. The interstellar plasma is shown with an orange glow similar to the color seen in visible-light images from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope that show stars in the Orion nebula traveling through interstellar space. Image released Sept. 12, 2013. CREDIT: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Each probe carries an identical golden record, which contains music, sounds, greetings and pictures that were gathered in the 1970s. Their aim: to share a small piece of information with extra-terrestrial life.

What scientists are now saying, is because life on Earth has changed dramatically since 1977, we should really think about updating Voyager’s information, just incase we do come across alien life.

Questions for your class (1): 

How has it changed?

What important discoveries have we made in this time? What inventions or things do we now have, that we didn’t then? 

Because of the changes and advances humankind has made, scientists want to update the Voyager spacecrafts with a message, informing them on our new time and changed earth.

Similar to an old LP (vinyl) that your parents and grandparents would have used to listen to music on

Photograph: Time Life Pictures/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Image

Photograph: Time Life Pictures/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Image

Questions for your class (2):
Do you agree? 

Will a snapshot of our planet be able to be understood by other ‘intelligent life’? 

Who should send the message? 

Who should write it?

Some people however, believe that the probes should be uninterrupted as they’re time-capsules.

Do you agree? Seeing as they are the furthest man-made objects to reach interstellar space, should we not take advantage of this final opportunity to send a final message?

Losing Contact

In the mid-2020s, Voyager 1 and 2 will run out of power entirely and therefore be unable to transmit any messages back to earth, or perform any other tasks NASA ask it.

They now aim to send a message of 1000 characters (which is the length of about 7 tweets of 140 characters).

Prof Riley says: “Before the Voyagers power down, why not add one final message from planet Earth, as a digital postscript to these most remarkable time capsules of humanity?”

Prof Riley says: “There’s really no reason why a message can’t be written by an impartial representative from the human race, so we’re inviting suggestions from anyone who would like to contribute a thought.” (c) Sky News 2015

Here’s the website where you can submit a Facebook message of your own 1000 characters, as well as read other people’s messages. Voyager’s Final Message 

Facebook access for primary children will be a problem, so I thought it would be ideal if I set up a Padlet for this, so that teachers and children can share their own message that they’d like to send to Voyager. Here’s the link: http://padlet.com/mrcotter/6a19gor31232

What's Your Message?

What’s Your Message?

Please, please share as widely as you’d like, and I will definitely be sharing with my great contacts on Twitter and Facebook. Who knows, maybe one of or some of, our messages will make it to interstellar space. Godspeed…

Lesson ideas:

– Ask the children to write their own message to Voyager, for potential extra-terrestrial life.

– Ask them to compose a tweet of 140 characters instead of 1000. Your teacher can share it for you.

– Maybe combine 7 chosen messages to create 1 longer message from the class or even school.

-As a class, list the important things to have within the message, before creating the overall text.

– Possibly imagine what a response to this would be, using some of the carefully selected Facebook messages from earthlings.

– What will they see themselves doing in the mid-2020s.

– Write a journal/diary entry or blog post, from the perspective of the probe, on what you have seen and your final words before leaving the boundaries of our own solar system.

– Write a postcard from space (KS1/KS2), adding images and pictures from what you have seen so far.

– Create a fact file/information text on each planet you’ve passed as Voyager.

– Write a balanced argument on whether or not we should update Voyager’s message for potential aliens.

– Generate a comic-strip retelling using Comic Life of Voyager’s journey so far.

– Make Voyager out of Lego, photograph it and give the detail of each important part on the probe. How does this differ to our more recent probes sent in to Space.

– Create your own playlist for extra-terrestrial life. Using Spotify or iTunes, generate your own playlist for what you would send to Voyager that encompasses the wide variety of genres in today’s music. See the SoundCloud link below, where you can now actually listen to the sounds/music on Voyager.

Here’s a quick doc I created on Google Docs for you to download, share or adapt:

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 16.09.38

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1f-BiNQ13JtFl_prT-Fq43PHez-EQkOgAq3fNAbd2vjk/edit?usp=sharing

Voyager Message 1000

Useful Websites/Links:

Space.com’s website on Voyager: http://m.space.com/22729-voyager-1-spacecraft-interstellar-space.html

Nasa’s Website on Voyager’s Mission: http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov

Nasa’s Job Advertisement for old coding using Fortran: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/10/31/brush_up_on_your_fortran/

The Sounds of Earth that are on-board Voyager (Soundcloud link): https://soundcloud.com/nasa/sets/golden-record-sounds-of

Sounds of the Earth on Soundcloud from 1977

Sounds of the Earth on Soundcloud from 1977

Using ‘Score! Hero’ in the Classroom

I recently came across this App called ‘Score! Hero’ on the AppStore. It’s currently featured by Apple and free to download at the moment. It has been created by the same team who made Score: World Goals and Dream League Soccer. Check it out, here.

In this particular game, YOU are the player, journeying through your career right from the early stages in your footballing life.

Start right from the trials, aiming to impress the scouts and possible future managers. And, if you’re successful, get signed up on a contract.

  

In play, you are rated by the commentator on screen for how well you’ve taken a goal, made a pass or a move. This vocabulary could possibly be put into a news-report or diary entry from the player’s perspective. A possible suggestion is, in pairs, one child could be the reporter/commentator and take notes on their partner’s performance – this can be reviewed and analysed later.

Users can create their own player, just like FIFA or PES. This could be an opportunity to create the player bio and description.


As you are probably aware, football games and apps are incredibly popular. What I like about this one is its potential use in class, placing the user in the first person, immediately engaging the player.

Possible Uses in Class:

– Produce a diary entry for one of your stages/matches. (Each stage is fairly short at the start, becoming more complex and longer the further you progress. This would be more appropriate in class, as time is vital.)

– Conduct an interview of with the player using Cover-it-Live, a live blogging website where You can virtually hot seat characters/people etc. Here’s an example of how I’ve used it before in class:

Interview with Ariadne

…and here’s some of my class’s writing based on our interview with Ariadne from Theseus and the Minotaur on Pobble:

Ariadne Blogs on Pobble

– Use a green screen to conduct a post-match interview. I’ve always used Doink’s Green Screen App as it’s easy to use and you can adjust background colours so they don’t just have to be green either. You could also do a Carragher and Neville Sky Sports style analysis before and after the game. 

– Based on this headline, children could produce the orientation and following article. Alternatively, learners could generate their own headline and byline too.

– Generate vocabulary in-game. Depending on how you’ve controlled the ball, delivered a through-ball or finished off a series of combination passes, adverbs, verbs and adjectives can be generated which can be included in their future writing.

– Create a back-story for yourself/your character. What’s your situation? How did you make it? What’s your player’s life like, or what was it like, before the trials?

– Write about the emotions and feelings at a key play or point in the game. You could use Disney Pixar’s ‘Inside Out’ characters as a prompt here.

 – As suggested in Lee Parkinson’s ebook, you could create a Roy of the Rovers style comic, but using a key moment in ‘Score! Hero’ to write the remaining story. In Lee’s 15 iPad Lessons for the World Cup, he suggests using Comic Life – a great app that is really worth having.

– Accompany the game with sound effects from an actual football game, adding to the suspense and atmosphere in the classroom. Of course, I’d suggest using Celtic Park on a Champions League night. Particularly, this memorable game versus Barcelona.

Finally, ensure you model to the children how you want them to use the app as part of the writing process. I can guarantee they’ll love it!

Thanks for reading. Now, where’s my football and that old game of Sensible Soccer?