Welcome to Race to Space!

If you are a teacher, and you teach physics to students age 14 – 18, you are in the right place.

Race to Space is a free science course that revolves around neutron scattering as a method for examining various types of matter.

With this course, you can:

  • Teach students about neutron scattering in an engaging and inspirering way
  • Use a narrative scenario, which frames each problem in the concrete case of establishing a base on Mars
  • Use an inquiry-based approach to teaching physics (Inquiry-Based Science Education, IBSE)
  • Make use of formative evaluation in order to optimise the students’ learning

Prerequisites for this course
Students need to have been introduced to basic knowledge about atomic scale physics. They should be able to name and explain the building blocks of the atoms, such as electrons, protons, and neutrons. Also, it will be advantageous if the student can name and explain wave properties like wavelength, frequency, and constructive/destructive interference. Finally, students should be to explain kinetic energy.

Navigating the site

As you can see, this homepage has two menues at the top. The upper one is for you, the teacher, and contains relevant background knowledge that will help you curate the lessons.
The lower menu consists of student assignments. These consists of two parts: A box with teacher instructions, and the student assignments. In the teacher instructions you will not only find instructions, but also lines that you can either act out or read aloud.
At the bottom of each lesson plan, you will find links for PDF files. These files contain background information targeted at the students, as well as rubriks for self- and peer to peer evaluation.

What is a narrative scenario?

Narrative scenarios are stories that guide the students’ learning journey throughout the course. Think of it as a fictional space where learning unfolds. In this course, we’ve crafted a narrative scenario to teach students about neutron scattering in a unique and engaging way.

But it’s not just about storytelling. This narrative scenario has some relevant features that make learning interactive and fun:

  1. Active participation: Students won’t be passive listeners in this course. As they explore the solutions of problems that arise in the narrative, each student practises agency and the ability to think for themselves.
  2. Decision-making practice: Within this fictional environment, you’ll have the chance to make important decisions. Using the IBSE approach, there are no wrong answers. The narrative scenario creates a safe space to explore different choices and see how they impact the outcome.
  3. Authentic learning setting: By infusing the narrative into the scenario, we create an authentic environment that feels real. Students will be fully immersed in the world of neutron scattering, making the learning experience more relatable and memorable.

Read more about narrative scenarios under the menu item Narrative Scenarios.


This course was made possible through the “Accelerating Teaching” project, which aims to develop science education and empower teachers to educate students about neutron accelerators. We received funding from EU grants to support this initiative. Although our focus is on European teachers, the material on this site is open and available to any teacher interested in the subject.

Our goal is to make science more engaging and relevant for students. We want to reach out to science teachers across the EU and provide them with free, digital online teaching and learning resources. These resources will cover the latest research facilities and the exciting science that emerges from them, as well as:

  • Understand the value of large facilities such as CERN in providing a context for your STEM teaching
  • Learn how to engage students in modern science research through free digital tools
  • Gain a well-rounded understating of how particle accelerators work, are used in society and how they contribute to modern research in all STEM subjects
  • Discover different educational methodologies that stimulate students’ analytical and critical thinking skills, collaboration, communication, and active participation competencies.

The teacher course, entitled ‘Accelerate Your Teaching MOOC: Research Facilities to Support STEM Education’, will be delivered through a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), bringing together various stakeholders, in the autumn of 2023. It will be held online on the European Schoolnet Academy.

By combining the expertise from particle accelerators, science education research, classroom teaching practices, and science and technology centers, along with online professional development courses, we aim to create a comprehensive resource for science teachers.

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