Badge Support | Astronomy Badges
Working towards these badges is a great way for budding scientists to unleash their potential and explore their interests. Each badge is designed to help young people gain valuable Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) skills, and encourages them to have fun along the way.
Whether you’re helping a starry-eyed Beaver to identify the planets, or encouraging a Scout to chase their dream of becoming an aeronautical engineer, we’ve compiled all the resources and tips you could need below. Read on. The sky’s the limit!
Beavers – Space Activity Badge
This badge is a great opportunity to make the most of the darker evenings with your Colony. To start, spend a little time learning how to identify the constellations (see suggestions below). Then, wrap up warm and head out for a night of stargazing. Look up! What can everybody see?
To learn about the constellations (requirement two), you could help your Beavers to make a constellation diagram using some starry stickers and chalk, or to build one out of toothpicks and marshmallows. If you meet in an area with a lot of light pollution and can’t see the stars clearly, these indoor activities are an alternative way to test your Beavers’ knowledge. That said, if you are able to stargaze outdoors, the experience is unbeatable! Guidance on how to do this safely can be found in the stargazing resources section at scouts.org.uk/bearnibbles).
For requirement four, you could spend one of your meetings exploring facts about a recent mission together. Astronaut Tim Peake – our newest Scout Ambassador – has prepared this excellent video, where he answers primary school children’s questions live from the International Space Station, and even demonstrates how to play table tennis in zero gravity!
Each young person who participates in the programme should face a similar degree of challenge, and requirements can be adapted according to each young person’s abilities. Most importantly, the experience should be fun, and should allow young people to use their imagination. The badge needn’t be difficult to complete, and Beavers can learn through play. For example, rather than ‘testing’ Beavers on the names of the planets, you can help them learn the names through a game or a song.
Cubs – Astronomer Activity Badge
To make their model listed in the badge requirements for the Astronomer Activity Badge, Cubs could try out this fun Fruit Salad Solar System activity, which shows the order and relative sizes of each planet, using fruit and everyday household objects. They could also draw a simple picture, or make a paper-mache model, for example. How they present their findings is up to them.
For their presentation on two space-related subjects, encourage your Cubs to be as creative as they like – chasing their interests and imaginations, however niche the subject! Whether they want to talk about weird and wonderful foods astronauts eat in space, or the history of robotics – be open and flexible to allow them to really shine. For extra guidance, we’ve listed a short A-Z of ideas below, which should help springboard some inspiration among those who don’t know where to start.
Suggested space-related subjects to learn about (A-Z)
Animals in space (e.g. chimpanzees in space, Soviet space dogs), black holes, comets, dwarf planets, eclipses, future missions (e.g. ambitions to land on Mars), galaxies, hurricanes, International Space Station (ISS), jobs in space, Kirkwood gaps, living in space, moons, Neptune, ozone layer, Pluto, quarter moons, robotics, stars/suns, telescopes, Uranus, Venus, water, X-rays, yellow dwarfs, the zodiac
Astronomer Activity Badge
The Astronomer badge is ideal for curious minds, allowing Scouts to take their interest in the sky to a higher level.
To help your Scouts complete requirement two (learning the meaning of a selection of astronomical words), take a look at this useful astronomy dictionary.
For requirement eight, you can help your Scouts identify and recognise the different satellites before they set out to observe them. To start, direct them to Heavens Above – an extraordinarily useful website and app.
Astronautics Activity Badge
The Astronautics Activity Badge allows those with a deeper interest in space and in physics to truly soar, giving them the opportunity to expand their knowledge and explore their individual interests in depth. As it requires some debate and discussion as a group, it will also help each Scout to gain confidence in their communication skills, and introduce them to subjects they may not have encountered before (like philosophy).
Topics include: the potential existence of intelligent life on other planets, the formation of craters, the nature of speed, and the composition of rockets, to name a few! Though it’s one of the more challenging badges on offer, it’s also one of the most rewarding to complete.
To get things started, our partner – UK Space Agency - has produced a number of activity sheets to help Scouts complete the badge (see below), and you can also try this Fruit Bowl Solar System activity.
Explorers - Science and Technology Activity Badge
To achieve their Science and Technology Activity Badge, Explorer Scouts choose an option from a list of five key STEM subjects, including astronomy, and then explore their interest in depth.
Explorers commit to their area of interest, and should be aiming to work towards achieving the badge over a period of six to twelve months. In many ways, this is more reflective of the increasingly specialist work they will do as they move on to higher education/employment, so it’s great for helping them learn how to manage longer-term deadlines, developing their resilience and perseverance while giving them to freedom to chase their own interests.
The astronomy option of the badge involves Explorers demonstrating their skills to a group of young people. Why not help facilitate this by linking up with younger sections within your District? For example, you could help your Explorer to lead a stargazing lesson with a group of Beavers working towards their Space Activity Badge, or link up with Scouts interested in STEM activities. Doing so is the perfect way to showcase how fun and interesting the Explorer section programme can be, so it may even inspire younger members to stay in the Movement for longer.
To explore the history of space exploration for requirement four of the badge, you can direct your Explorers to the UK Space Agency’s homepage, which has a wealth of information on British space innovations. The BBC have also create this useful timeline of Spaceflight.
Scout Network members have the power to shape their own programme, and can still fully engage with the topic by planning their own astronomy-related projects and events. If unsure of how to start, it’s best to direct them to their District Scout Network Commissioner, who can provide advice. They can also check out this page, which answers some FAQs relating to Youth Shaped events and projects.
Top tip: This badge can count towards some of our Scouting top awards. The Chief Scout’s Platinum and Diamond Awards, the Queen’s Scout Award, and the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award require Explorer Scouts and Network members to take up a skill and physical activity. This is a brilliant opportunity for them to further develop a hobby or to take up something entirely new. They will demonstrate commitment and help them to grow in confidence, whilst working towards an award that will make them stand out. Guidance and support for the Chief Scout’s Awards and the Queen’s Scout Award can be found in the Reach the Top resource.
For all sections
Check out the wealth of fascinating resources available from our partner - the UK Space Agency - or sign up for alerts from NASA, who will contact you via email or text every time the International Space Station passes by your meeting place – allowing you to wave as it orbits above!
Get more support and guidance on other badges and awards, through these badge support blogs.
Before running any outdoor activities with your section, you should always consult our rules and guidance at scouts.org.uk/a-z.