Life in orbit

This lesson for students aged 7-11 is about what it's like to live in space, and what needs to be done to keep people alive in space.

Lesson outline

Step 1: Scene setter
A discussion exercise focusing on the human essentials for life, linked to the concept of a vehicle that delivers to the International Space Station (ISS).

Step 2: Explore through mime the effect of weightlessness
Pupils work in teams on developing mimes that explore the effect that microgravity has on everyday activities.

Step 3: Compare and contrast grid
Pupils consider the similarities and differences between emergency health care in 2 distinctly different settings – on Earth and on the ISS.

Step 4: Plenary runner game
A quick-fire true or false game looking at the how healthcare is delivered on the ISS.


Children will be able to work scientifically by:

  • Comparing and contrasting two settings and the implications of these differences on humans.

Children will learn:

  • The essentials for life and how living on Earth provides for all human needs

Cross-curricular opportunities:

  • Medical emergency response, who, when and how.

Video clips

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

Kevin Fong doing experiments on the 'vomit comet':

Comparing the medical kits of the ISS and Air Ambulance:

If you have trouble accessing YouTube videos in your school, you can watch the weightless experiments and medical kit 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