Bones in space

Enhance biology lessons for 11-14 and 14-16 year olds on the skeleton, physics lessons on structural strength, or chemistry lessons on calcium with short (10-30 minutes), medium (30-60 minutes) and long (60+ minutes) activities.


Use a clip from the 2015 CHRISTMAS LECTURES to enhance biology lessons on the skeleton, physics lessons on structural strength, or chemistry lessons on calcium. There are accompanying ideas, information, and worksheets for short, medium, or long activities.

Video clip

If you have trouble accessing YouTube videos in your school, you can watch this clip on the Ri Channel.

Short activity

View and discuss (10-30 minutes)

View this clip with your class to augment lessons on:

  • The human skeleton
  • Bone
  • Life on board the International Space Station
  • Load-bearing structures
  • Calcium

A worksheet is available with questions that draw on concepts in the clip.  Feel free to distribute this to your class to be filled out after viewing, or simply use it a guide for discussion afterwards.

There is also an information sheet with additional facts, figures, and explanations to help lead the session.

Download the full teachers' guide.

Medium activity

Bone analogs (30-60 minutes)

Tie the clip into a larger lesson on the structure and function of bone. Bone is a living tissue that reforms itself depending on the stresses it is put under. Without the constant force of gravity, bones deteriorate rapidly. Using paper and card, explore the relationship between density and strength and show the surprising strength of structures made from certain shapes.

Download full instructions.

Long activity

Soft bones (60+ minutes)

Explore calcium, the element that gives bones their strength, by turning chicken bones and eggs rubbery. This activity must take place over the course of at least two days to allow time for the reaction to take place. Consider beginning the activity before a weekend.

Download the full instructions.

English curriculum links

These resources can be adapted for any class in KS3 or KS4 and link to working scientifically, biology, physics and chemistry curriculum objectives. Download the full list of curriculum links.

Watch the full lectures

View the full CHRISTMAS LECTURES, How to survive in space, along with related content on the Ri Channel

Supported by the UKSA