Listen, What Can You Hear?

Prepare for launch

Activity overview

15 mins
Ages 9 – 11 , Ages 3 – 5

Science topics:


Spark a conversation with this sound clip of a space shuttle launch. This activity is great for describing observations and applying ideas in unfamiliar contexts.

Run the activity

1. You’re going to listen to a short sound clip then ‘reveal’ a matching image. The aim isn't to find right answers, it's to explore ideas and find out what they know.

  • Do they know what they are listening to?  

2. After you've listened to the sound clip, lead a discussion with your class:

  • Have they heard these sounds before? What was going on when they did? 
  • Do you ever hear sounds like these in school? Do you make them yourself? 

3. Reveal the matching image – is it what they expected to see? Does it change their ideas? 

Background science

You have been listening to a NASA Space Shuttle launching at Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Space exploration is fundamental in understanding our universe, including the planet we call home – Earth. It allows us to delve into the unknown to help us understand many aspects of our solar system.

For example, in 2018, NASA launched the Parker Solar Probe, which will reach within 4 million miles of the Sun’s surface, and make observations of the outer corona of the Sun.

NASA plans to send the first woman and the first person of colour to land on the Moon as early as 2025. Mission plans for Orion will see astronauts sent beyond the Moon, followed by visits to asteroids and even Mars.

Take it further

Early Years Children

Small world 

Create a space scene. 

You need: play sand, cornflour, coloured powder paint, water, biodegradable glitter, space-themed toys and figurines, a large tray/container. Encourage the children to use their imagination to make a space scene. 

Play, observe and ask 

  • What do you think space is like? 
  • Would you like to travel to space? Why? 
  • What do you think astronauts eat?


Make space helmets for role play 

You need:  Cardboard boxes large enough to fit over your children’s heads, foil, glue, coloured paper and scissors. Instructions are here.  

Health and Safety: check for staples before using the boxes. 

Play, observe and ask 

  • Why do astronauts need a space helmet? 
  • What else would you need for a journey into space? 
  • What will you take with you from home? 


On the Launch Pad by Michael Dahl and Roaring Rockets by Tony Milton and Ant Parker. 

For older children 

Learn about life on the International Space Station or plans to send astronauts to the Moon again. 

This ESERO-UK resource: Mission to the Moon has a range of practical activities, investigations and games, encouraging children aged 5 to 11 to work scientifically, and is based upon current lunar research and real data. 

Other Explorify activities 

To the Moon and beyond is a What’s Going On of the Artemis launch or learn about the role Kathryn Johnson played in the Apollo missions with Who is Kathryn Johnson? Ask the Explorify Big Question, Who should own space? 

Image credit

Pixelshot via Canva

Space shuttle launching by Comstock via Canva


Audio credit    US Space Ship Launching- NASA Spaceship Launch via BBC