The Big Question

What would you investigate on the ISS?

What would you investigate on the ISS?

Classroom view

Activity overview

30 mins+
Ages 9 – 11

Science topics:


Planning an investigation will really get your class thinking like scientists. How will they investigate the possibilities aboard the International Space Station?

Run the activity

1. Plan an investigation around a Big Question. What do the pupils already know about the International Space Station and what happens there?

  • What do we need to do every day on Earth?
  • What problems might we have in space?
  • How would microgravity make tasks difficult? Easier to do?

2. How will the group explore the question? Prompt pupils to explain their ideas, qualify them and refine them based on views expressed by other people. What is their plan for the investigation?

3. Ask the class to imagine they had to present their investigation at a school assembly or to their family, how would they show their action plan?

Background science

The International Space Station is an orbiting laboratory on which hundreds of experiments have been conducted. Astronauts (or Cosmonauts if trained by the Russian Space Agency) live on board the ISS and conduct the experiments. The experiments help us learn more about living and working in space but also help us with things back on Earth. Cancer research is one of the many things happening on board but during Tim Peake's mission, the Royal Horticultural Society sent rocket seeds to space for schools to investigate if the effects of being in space would affect how rocket seeds germinated and grew back on earth.

The ISS is constantly orbiting the Earth and does a full orbit every 90 minutes! How many times is that in our school day?   

Take it further

Explore some of the items that have been taken to the International Space Station by astronauts with our Mystery Bag activity. Find out more about the ISS and go on a tour!