Lift off!

This lesson for students aged 7-11 is about a rocket launch and the team that it takes to send a rocket to space.

Lesson outline

Step 1: The lesson starts as a short immersive experience
The classroom tone is set to provoke imaginative consideration of what it might be like to be an astronaut on the launch pad through role play, then hearing from real life astronauts about their experiences of launch.

Step 2: Developing awareness through picture & text matching
Pupils are introduced to the dangers of a launch by matching statements about some of the dangerous aspects of a rocket launch to images of familiar objects and how they might be affected by a rocket launch.

Step 3: The main section of the lesson involves an investigation in role as a safety engineer
Pupils investigate making changes to a simple toy pushchair to improve the safety of the passenger, similar to a rocket engineer thinking of the safety of astronauts during a rocket launch.

Step 4: Lesson plenary takes a fun activity using SPACE as an acronym
Pupils try to think of the roles involved in a space mission by making team badges.


Children will be able to work scientifically by:

  • Asking questions and using different types of enquiry
  • Setting up simple practical enquiries, comparative and fair tests

Children will learn:

  • The interdisciplinary working of scientific teams

Cross-curricular opportunities:

  • Development of empathetic responses to the circumstances of others

Video clips

Download the teachers' guide for instructions on how to use these clips:

Helen Harman and Mike Barratt talking about a rocket launch:

Helen Sharman telling Kevin Fong about her launch seat and space suit:

If you have trouble accessing YouTube videos in your school, you can watch the rocket launch discussion and space suit films on the Ri Channel.

Lesson material

Download the full teachers' guide.

You'll also need the PowerPoint presentation.

Primary resources produced by the University of Manchester's Science & Engineering Education Research and Innovation Hub

Watch the full lectures

View the full CHRISTMAS LECTURES, How to survive in space, on the Ri Channel:

Supported by the UKSA