Through the process of creating 8 Minutes and the research it entailed, Alexander Whitely has grown to understand and remember a number of facts about space which he didn’t know before. For example, the title of the piece, 8 Minutes, is the time it takes light to travel from the sun to the earth. He is isn’t likely to ever forget that fact again!
Talk about the planets that make up the solar system and their names. Ask each child to create a silly sentence to help them remember the order of the planets from the sun. Use the first letter of each planet to create each word, starting with Mercury and ending with Neptune (Pluto has been changed to a 'dwarf planet'). Make clear this is written down?
• My Very Easy Method Just Speeds Up Names
Now talk about the different characteristics of each planet. Their colour, make up (rock or gas), whether they have a planetary ring, its size, the number of moons and satellites.
You may find it useful to download the Planet Fact File template on the STEM website (https://www.stem.org.uk/elibrary/resource/26913) or alternatively make up your own. Assign a small group of children per planet, then have them research and complete this fact file using a selection of books and information sheets laid out on the table. If your school policy allows, you can also encourage use of the internet.
Website icon: You will find resources here to prepare for this discussion:
Split the class into the same groups they worked in for the classroom prep and have them bring along a copy of their fact file about their own planet. Sit in a circle and ask each child for a fact about their own planet to share with the rest of the group.
Pick one of the facts (or a combo of facts) that seemed particularly interesting to the group as a whole. Discuss together how you might use this fact to inspire a movement. Have a go at creating a few and practicing them together. Invite recommendations from the group as to how to make the movement better, or more representative.
FACT: Saturn has many rings and scientist disagree on exactly how many there are.
Movement: Person stands with their arms out to the side and spins several times, bending the knees slightly and straightening them so that the spiral movement goes up and down slightly depicting lots of rings.
NB Could they use facts about different materials eg rock, gas, liquid, to explore different movement states. Trying to move lick rock etc.
Split the class into smaller groups and give each of them a fact file. These groups could stay the same as those who researched the fact file. Or you may want to change them to encourage the students to remember facts about a different planet.
Ask them to use the fact file to inspire a selection of movements.
NB: These do not need to be woven together into a dance. Encourage them to create individual movements that stand alone. The students are now creating new ‘movement vocabulary’ inspired by their planet.
Bring the group back together and invite each group to demonstrate some (or all if you have time) of their unique movements. Can the observers guess what the fact behind each movement was – or what it related to?
Now each group has a bank of movements they can use to create a dance about their particular planet.
Mix the groups up so that the planet itself is no longer relevant, but the movements become the focal point. Ask each person to teach their favourite movement from their initial planet-inspired exploratory task to their new colleagues. Invite the group to weave these movements together to make a dance.