Think Universe


Introductory lectures

THINK UNIVERSE! introductory lectures summarise the entire project, containing selections of the topics described in the project overview.

The lectures share the same basic content, but the character and levels of interactivity and language are audience specific.

A) Lecture/discussion for the general public and interest group:

Title: THINK UNIVERSE! The relevance of science in modern culture.


This public lecture starts with a review of some of the most imaginative myths of creation that still dominate part of our culture. Then we explore the discoveries of modern science about the true nature of the Universe, from its simple and still mysterious origin, to the complexity and diversity around us today. We follow the cosmic time line from its very beginning to the development of planet Earth and its living environment, represented by a symbolic forest, where vast numbers of trees of life could grow and vanish by mere accident. Science tells us about the insignificance and relevance of humanity, that has just started as a tiny twig on the most recent of those trees.

Science deciphers Nature's powerful messages about a single human family that emerged and migrated from central Africa to populate the entire planet in only a few thousand years. Nature brings alive the wisdom of our ancestors, searching for new ways of living, in harmony with each other and preserving the fragile paradise that has always been our home.

Topics for discussion:

Contrast between the myths and the science. Philosophical implications.

Value of our presence in the Universe.

Value of the environment.

Need of having these topics as part of early education. Potential problems for implementation..


 A large, darkened lecture room (150+) with a large screen and data projector. 12-14m wide stage for the timeline demonstration. Duration c. 70 min, plus audience discussion.

B) Lecture/workshop for school teachers

Title: THINK UNIVERSE! Science foundation for school years 5, 6 and 7


THINK UNIVERSE! is a one-term foundation course on natural sciences (physics, chemistry and biology) based on curiosity-enquiry-driven learning and fundamental concepts about the origin and nature of the Universe, including life, the environment and humanity, in a way not usually found at elementary levels. The main principle, based on the concept of building blocks is very simple: big things are very diverse and made out of the assembly of small things. Small things come first. The smaller they are, the earlier they come and the less diverse they are. This principle is applicable to everything that we see in the Universe. This lecture explains how this is applied in the classroom using practical demonstrations and optical microscopes in order to set the foundations of apparently complex topics such as biological cells, molecules, atomic structure and even the periodic table of the chemical elements. A time line produced by the children illustrates the long assembly process that started at the origin of the Universe and has produced planets like the Earth with an amazing environment that only recently became our home. The children learn to value humanity as a whole, the need to live in peaceful harmony and preserve our delicate paradise. Finally, the lecture describes the logistical process for teachers getting involved by applying, receiving training, delivering the entire course in their classrooms and eventually becoming THINK UNIVERSE! ambassadors.

Topics for discussion:

Content and general level of THINK UNIVERSE!

Teaching strategy

Teacher confidence

Feasibility of classroom implementation

Teacher training


 A large, darkened lecture room (150+) with a large screen and data projector. 12-14m wide stage for the timeline demonstration. Duration c. 90 min, plus audience discussion.

C) Interactive lesson for school groups (years 5, 6 and 7)

Title: THINK UNIVERSE! What are the smallest things in the Universe? Why are they important?


In this lesson, pupils wonder about smaller and smaller things. With the help of an electronic microscope (provided) they discover that all life is made out of tiny cells put together and that colourful electronic images are made by the illusion of millions of tiny lights of only 3 colours. They conclude that a few types of simple and tiny things put together, can produce a wide diversity of larger and complex things. That in order to have large things, it is necessary to have smaller things first. Then, they explore the smallest things to the extreme to find out about their origin and how they have joined together in a very long sequence to produce things such as planets, dinosaurs and people. To illustrate this, they use coloured polystyrene and plasticine balls, to make models of simple molecules and atoms. Finally, they produce a cosmic timeline with the main events in the history of the Universe.

Topics for discussion:


Definition of life

Trees of life

Role of accidental events in Earth’s history


A large classroom where groups of 5 or so pupils sit around tables. Data projector and screen. Electronic microscope and specimens (provided), then for each table: 100g of each, read and blue plasticine, polystyrene balls around 3cm diameter (10 white, 5 red, 5 black/grey and 5 blue), 20 cocktail sticks, wood glue plus the usual stationery material. A 14m long rope and 20 clothes pegs for the timeline.

The lectures have been delivered at a variety of events and schools. Please go to the events page for details.

Requests for the lecture can be sent by email to either Francisco Diego or Shirin Sheikh-Bahai.