International Space Station - Introducing the International Space Station

Part of:

Google Expeditions
Lesson overview

In this lesson students will develop their knowledge and understanding of gravity and how the ISS stays in orbit because it is travelling at just the right speed to ‘counteract’ the microgravity in space.

Learning outcomes

  • To be able to name and label the forces acting on a space shuttle
  • To know what the International Space Station is
  • To know why objects in orbit do not fall back down to Earth
  • To find out when the ISS will next be visible

Expedition Prep Checklist

Download the Google Expeditions App on all devices and select the expedition International Space Station – Zarya Functional Cargo Block.

Explore the expedition and locate points of interest.

Review the video content in the Lesson resources section to update your knowledge and develop some teaching ideas.

Lesson steps
  1. Introduction (10 mins)
    Introduce the ISS using the slideshow and lead a discussion about what and where it is and how it got there. Students consider the forces acting on the shuttle as it takes off. Watch YouTube videos of the Zarya launch and arrival. Students compete card sort on Student Sheet, found in the Lesson resources section.
  2. Expedition (20 mins)
    Students to complete the expedition, then write a description of the module. Ask: Which way is up? Does it matter? Why is everything tied down? Which force is different in space?
  3. Activity (30 mins)
    Lead class discussion about why the ISS doesn’t fall back to Earth or fly off into space. Explain that the force that is different is gravity (and therefore weight). Stress that there is gravity in space, but it is less effective then what we experience, and it is called microgravity. Demonstrate gravitational pull using a ball on a string if you spin slowly or more quickly; the ball remains in orbit.
  4. Extension
    Students find out where the ISS is during the lesson on the live streaming page and when it will next pass over where they live.
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