Space Based Maths Activities List

List of space based mathematics activities on this site. Here is a list of good Space/Maths websites.

List of websites related to Tim Peake's Principia mission to the ISS. Pdf document.

List of websites with good images and info on configuration of the ISS. Use these to research constructing a model of the space station. Pdf document.


Colmanweb Planet Fact Pages. Use the links below:

Toilet Roll Constellations

Students stick the templates onto black paper, then carefully use a compass to create holes for the constellations. Cut out, stick onto the ends of toilet roll tubes then use to learn the constellations. The names of each constellation are included, in mirror image form (reflected horizontally) to be stuck onto each tube, so that students can check names of constellations using a mirror. Answers included. PDF version.

Adapted from an idea here. (This file prints easily, fits regular toilet roll tubes and constellations are already reflected to suit the tubes.)

Learn Russian

Just like the astronauts, you need to learn Russian. Begin here with these activities to accompany this Powerpoint for translating cryllic Russian to English. Pdf here. Older version here, older pdf here.

Hubble Standard Form

GCSE, set of standard form exercises. 

A selection of 11 real life questions based on observations from the Hubble Space Telescope involving standard form. By no means easy this uses GCSE maths to find out real facts about the solar system and universe, just like astronomers do.

Do Aliens Exist?

At www.prezi.com is my recent assembly presentation on whether aliens exist; a sensible discussion of issues surrounding the idea. It was extremely well received by both students and staff. The main link above is for the commentary for the assembly.

ISS Earth Circumference

KS3 and GCSE, circles (circumference formula) activity.

Real life application of circumference of a circle formula to work out the circumference of the Earth using altitude, speed and orbital time of the International Space Station.  A good extension task is to then find percentage error between this answer and actual answer.

Teachers notes, the answer and workings. Printable version of the PowerPoint file. More materials are at the Sun|Trek website.

Mathematics of a Total Solar Eclipse

A good 'similar triangles' activity to explain the shadow of a total solar eclipse. Harder examples of the main activity.

Lesson plan
Bulletpoints for lesson
More structured task for less experienced pupils
Supporting presentation
SOHO image of Sun
Eclipse map
SOHO website

Spatial Thinking with Planetary Nebulae

Pupils use cubes and recognise household items using the same skills as astronomers do with Hubble Space Telescope images of Planetary Nebulae. For much more detail & background to this activity here. Use the files below:

Planetary Nebulae Activity
Planetary Nebulae Images
Planetary Photos
Planetary Cubes
Planetary Cubes II
All Essentials ZIP

Extension activity: a great Java activity based on Plan, Side, Elevation is .

Hubble Deep Field

This is a link to the Space Observatories in School website that hosts this activity. Pupils will use the Hubble Deep Field to estimate the number of galaxies in the universe. Lots of mathematics application here & a fair amount of wow factor too!

HDF ppt show
Finding the HDF
HDF Main Image
HST STScI website
HDF Answer
HDF at Amazing Space
Google search on 'number galaxies universe'

Mr Cripps' Guide to the Universe

KS2, KS3, GCSE Powerpoint animation about scale and sizes of various astronomical objects. 

How exactly do all of those astronomical things shape up? Which are bigger & which are smaller than others? This Powerpoint animation shows the relative sizes of planets, the solar system, our galaxy and beyond.  Possible extensions include using a prompt to explore standard form and/or the speed of light.

Pdf version.

Eagle Zoom

Similar kind of activity to the previous one, this time we zoom out of the Eagle Nebula

Keplars Law

GCSE higher extension, proportion activity.  Mathematics, Physics cross-curricular task based on exploring Keplar’s third law. 

Students learn how to apply this to the planets, as they orbit the sun, and then to the moon, space station and geostationary satellites, as they orbit the Earth.

Further teachers notes.

A previous version of this activity is at the Sun|Trek website.

Gravity & the Inverse Square Law

GCSE higher, inverse proportion activity/worksheet.  Mathematics, Physics cross-curricular task based on applying the inverse square law to Newton’s laws of gravity. 

In this real life application of inverse proportion, pupils will investigate how gravity fields on various planets are inversely proportional to their radius and, subsequently, how they are related to their mass.  This is followed by some particularly testing questions to really check pupil’s mathematical, physical and logical reasoning.


Solar System Fact Sheet

MS Excel sheet that gives info to make a scale model of the distances between the planets for any size room (or peice of paper etc) that you choose

First Contact / Arecibo Message

KS2, KS3, GCSE enrichment, logical thinking, prime numbers.

Inspired from a lecture by Sir Patrick Moore, this is a fairly simple activity that prompts pupils to think about what kind of message we would send to aliens and how we would send it.  After considering various issues, pupils complete a 'paint by numbers' type activity to see what Sir Patrick Moore recommends.  A second, real life, extension task based on the Arecibo Message is also included.

Larger print version of the message. The answer to this activity. Or download all files as a single zip file.

Find out what alien message NASA have put aboard the Voyager spacecraft (the only spacecraft to leave our solar system).

The Arecibo Message was a real life version of this activity. A further activity based on the Arecibo Message. The Arecibo message in binary.

Seasons On Saturn

KS4 higher, application of standard (right-angle) trigonometry and transformations of curves. 

This task involves students making and using measurements from Hubble Space Telescope images to determine Saturn’s orbital period and then transform the sin curve using the excel file to establish when it will next appear ‘edge-on’.  Lots of geometrical reasoning, problem solving and ICT.

Saturn Images Edge-on Last
Seasons on Saturn worksheet Hubbles Views Diagram
Saturns Rings spreadsheet Hubbles Views Movie (1.2Mb)
Saturn Trigonometry Animated Saturn
All Essentials ZIP Sin Curve
  Latest Image
  All Extras ZIP

How High?

KS2, KS3, GCSE matchup activity.  Pupils consider order and relative altitudes of Earth features, satellites (natural & artificial) & stars.  A good real life ordering task or use as a prompt to introduce scale and scale models. This is a re-work of a previous version of this task.

Matchup cards for activity, solution and handout. Pdf here and here.

Large version of this activity. PDF


Orbiting Our Sun

Use circle and speed/distance/time formula to work out the speeds at which the planets go around our Sun.

This downloads as 4 files zipped up. However, you can dowload just the teachers notes and other files separately Powerpoint in miles, Powerpoint in km and Excel info sheet & answers.

These files are headed with the Sun|Trek logo for which I produced them. More materials are at the Sun|Trek website.

How far is the horizon from any given height?

Pupils use Pythagoras to work out how far away the horizon is from any given altitude. This file sets up the mathematical model and then gives the answer too. An easier, more numeric version. The answers and working to the numeric version.

Space Shuttle Facts

Figures on mass and thrust of space shuttle on launch

STS-110 Nominal Trajectory Data

Data returned by the shuttle on the ascent to space of STS-110 mission.

NASA's Educational Rockets Activities

External pdf download of NASA's Rocket Guide educational brief.

Industrial Strength Paper Rockets

Three versions of instructions for constructing the launcher for 'Industrial Strength Paper Rockets':

Version 1
Version 2
Version 3

Rocket Trigonometry & Rocket Paths

Two files to use when doing Water Rockets or Air Powered Rockets. The first is a PowerPoint show to explain briefly (assuming a minimal understanding of trigonometry) how we can use angle and distance to calculate the maximum height of the rocket. The second is an MS Excel worksheet that calculates max height from pupils measurements. I suggest that pupils practice using the formula by hand before they use this time saving tool.

Powers of 10

Link to a great animation by the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, Florida State University demonstrating why standard form is useful. Goes from 1023, 10million light years away from the Milky Way, through to 10-16, examining quarks!

(For an alternative, click non-internet based version +ve powers and non-internet based version -ve powers)

Powers of 10

A good flash animation version of the animated gif (above). Only positive powers however.

Powers of 10

Arrange the 14 images in order of size, biggest to smallest (grab them, move them around). When you're done check your answer on the second slide. There's also links to the website from which the activity came and the original 1970's video on YouTube.

Would a cat land on its feet in Zero-G?

This question was put to NASA by a school pupil so they took a cat up in the Vomit-Comet to try to answer it. Here's what happened! (Not for animal lovers!)

Dolls Head in a Vacuum

What would happen to you if you didn't wear a spacesuit on an EVA (extra vehicular activity) in space? Watch this to find out just one of the consequences, 7.5mb.

Mars Exploration Rover Animation

Link to a NASA page from where you can download the MER Animation showing take-off, cruise and landing on Mars plus some off the science that the Rovers have been doing. There's a new RealVideo of this animation too. Pages of other Mars Exploration Rover resources are at:

MER Mainpage
MER Images
MER Video

Russian Mars

Simple 7 slide Powerpoint show of Russian plans to go to Mars. These plans are quite advanced and have been around since the 1980's! Worth a look! The www.energia.ru website.

Mars Crash

Pupils decide what 'tools' would be useful and which wouldn't following a crash landing on Mars. (Thanks Mr Cripps)

Mars Animation

Uses Hubble pictures to show the apparent size of Mars at different times of the 2 year cycle between Mars appearing large and appearing small in the sky. Use with the 'Mars Orbit' file below.

Mars Orbit

'Flash' animation to show the comparative orbits of Earth & Mars. Demonstrates why Mars appears larger in the sky every two years.

Cannonball Orbit

Nice demo from NASA JPL that demonstrates how to put things into orbit.

Mars Activities 1 and Mars Activities 2

Two Mars Activity Guides that take pupils through various aspects of the Red Planet (getting there, living there, mapping the surface to name just a few). The first guide is aimed at slightly older pupils than the second but have a look at both to choose your favourite activities from each. (These both download from external sources.)

Moon Hoax Photoset

Powerpoint file of some of the pictures & issues that are discussed in Moon Hoax Theories.

Rocket Launches - Freedom 7 Vs Saturn V

Use these two youtube videos to compare & consider f=ma.


Link to a nice program for making pdf planispheres (tells you whats in the sky for any particular time & place) for pupils to cut out and use. This is a link is to the external website from where I downloaded the program where there is also a convenient help page on how to use it.

Ring Wing Glider

Pdf document with instructions for pupils to cut out & create a wing glider from a single peice of A4 paper.

Rotor Motor

Pdf document with templates for pupils to cut out & create sycamore type flying devices.

Space Shuttle Model

Cut out and make a model of the space shuttle. This downloads as a word document or download as a gif file.

International Space Station Model

Cut out and make a model of the ISS. This is a link to the NASA website hosting PDF format scale models of each module of the ISS.


Cut out and make a model of the STEREO Spacecraft (pdf).

Apollo Spacecraft Model (This is a link to an external site)

web counter