For primary schools

We offer a range of fun and engaging primary school actitivies, all of which use space as an inspiring context for learning across the primary curriculum. Primary schools can bring classes to visit the Observatory or arrange a visit to your school. We also support teachers by providing access to loan schemes, educational resources and professional development opportunities.

 

The Royal Observatory Aerial View

Visit the Observatory

Primary school classes can visit the Observatory to tour our historic telescope dome and enjoy a range of inspiring astronomy-based activities specifically designed to support the Curriculum for Excellence.

If you are part of a home education group, please get in touch with us directly on 0131 6688 404 to discuss your needs.

Activities

Each topic can be covered during a half-day visit lasting two hours. Level 2 groups can combine two topics to make a full day visit. All visits also include a tour of our historic telescope dome and an opportunity to handle real meteorites.

Our Observatory Educators, who will gladly answer pupils’ questions about space, will lead your workshop and tour. By request and subject to staff availability on the day, your class can also meet with a Royal Observatory astronomer or engineer to learn more about their work at the Observatory.

Sun, Moon & Earth (First Level)

Why do we have night and day? Pupils model the Sun-Earth-Moon system through dance to learn how these objects orbit and spin and how these motions shape our everyday life. Make a simple sundial to take away and, weather permitting, test them and explore shadows on our rooftop.

Curriculum link: SCN 1-06a

Exploring Our Solar System (Second Level)

Take a trip through the Solar System to learn more about our nearest neighbours in space. Pupils help to demonstrate the relative sizes and distances of the planets, and look at some real astronomical imagery to explore the huge variety of other worlds that orbit our nearest star.

Curriculum link: SCN 2-06a

Booking information

Times & prices:

Schools can visit the Observatory on Mondays and Wednesdays. We offer half-day visits for Level 1. At Level 2, groups can choose between a half-day session or a full-day session with use of our lunch space.

Times & Prices
Session Type Times Price
Half-day visit 10:00-12:00 or 13:00-15:00 £3 per pupil (+VAT)
Full-day visit 10:00-15:00 £6 per pupil (+VAT)

 

Requirements:
  • We require a ratio of at least 1 accompanying adult for every 8 children. All accompanying adults are free of charge.
  • The minimum group size is 10, and we can accommodate up to 40 people in total. i.e. 35 children plus 5 accompanying adults.
  • Due to the lack of coach parking and insufficient space for turning, coaches are strongly discouraged from coming up the hill. We recommend you discuss this with the coach driver prior to starting the journey to avoid problems on the day. If you have access requirements please get in touch so we can discuss the best way to get to the site.

 

Book here:

 

 

Inflatable Planetarium

Arrange a visit to your school

If you cannot come to us, we can visit your school with our outreach programme if you are within a two hour drive of Edinburgh. (For more distant schools, please phone us to discuss options.) As well as our core programme, we can offer the chance to experience our curriculum-linked planetarium and rockets sessions. The mobile planetarium programmes can be tailored to any level, and are offered as part of a half-day (2 hour) or full-day (4 hour) visit.

Activities

Outreach sessions last between 30-45 minutes, and can be arranged to best suit your school’s needs and schedule.

Planetarium sessions

Explore the delights of outer space! Our inflatable planetarium has software that lets us gaze at the stars, look at the planets through telescopes, and ask the most important questions in the Universe.

Please note the planetarium requires a room at least 7m x 7m and 3.2 m high; it cannot be used outside. A school hall or gym is usually ideal. Please see our Planetarium Guide for full details.

The maximum group size for the planetarium is 35 for primary children.

We require a minimum of 1 hour to set up and 30 minutes to take down the planetarium. This time must be taken into account when scheduling.

First Level, 45 minutes

Why do we have days, months and years? Why do we only see the stars at night-time? Take a guided tour of the sky to find out, and even travel to another planet!

Curriculum: SCN 1-06a (also touching on SCN 1-04a)

Second level, 45 minutes

What are the planets, moons and asteroids in our Solar System made of, how big are they, and how far away? Learn all about our cosmic neighbours, and find out what lies beyond the Solar System.

Curriculum: SCN 2-06a and SCN 2-20b (also touching on SCN 2-05a, SCN 2-08a, SCN 2-17a, SCN 2-20a, and TCH 2-12a)

Booking information

Times & prices:

Schools outreach visits are available on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We offer half-day (two hour) or full-day (four hour) visits.

Times & Prices
Session Type Times Price
Half-day outreach By arrangement £250
Full-day outreach By arrangement £350

 

Requirements:

  • At least one teacher / responsible adult must accompany children at all times.

 

Book here:

 

 

Meteorite Handling

Loans Programmes

Bring the excitement of space into your classroom through our loans programmes. Each loan box comes with supporting resources to help you run inspiring, curriculum-linked activities, and the loan schemes are entirely FREE to schools.

Meteorite loans

Your class can have the chance to hold a real rock from space! The Down2Earth meteorite loan scheme allows you to borrow one of three boxes:

  • Meteorite box: contains a range of meteorites and meteorite-related items to encourage discussion about space environment and how objects come to Earth.
  • Moon box: contains meteorites, rocks similar to those you would find on the Moon, and replica Moon dust.
  • Mars box: contains meteorites, a Mars sample, and simulated Martian surface dust.

Resources to support work around meteorites are included in the boxes. More can be found at the Down2Earth website, which includes a wealth of information as well as an interactive impact calculator. You can also learn more about meteorites in this fantastic video from the Royal Observatory Greenwich:

 

To book a meteorite loan, please call 0131 668 8404 or e-mail vis@roe.ac.uk

Lunar Rocks

You can borrow samples of Moon rock and meteorites through the Science and Technology Facilities Council Loan Scheme. You typically need to give at least four months’ notice to book the lunar samples, due to scheduling and security requirements.

For more information and to borrow lunar samples please visit Borrow the Moon.

 

TRAPPIST-1

Educational resources

Are we alone: the search for planets beyond our Solar System

Hosted by the STEM Learning e-library (free registration required), this resource features nine practical activities based on the search for planets around other stars and is aimed at primary children aged 7 to 11. The first activity was developed in partnership with the Royal Observatory Edinburgh Visitor Centre and links to research done at the Observatory.

 

CPD Teacher Session

Professional development

The Royal Observatory Edinburgh provides bespoke professional development courses for primary teachers and teachers in training through arrangement. Please contact us at 0131 668 8404 or vis@roe.ac.uk to discuss your requirements.