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Age Range: 11-14 | 14-16
Duration: 0-29 mins
  • D&T
  • Physics

Sensors in space

Learn about the basic types of sensors and their functions.

As a spacecraft operating remotely, the James Webb Space Telescope uses many sensors to control and monitor its activities.

Students will be introduced to basic sensor types and their functions in this activity. This resource could be used as an introductory lesson for KS3 to develop an understanding of sensors.


This activity is one of a set of free STEM resources developed with the theme of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) to support the teaching of the secondary national curriculum. They are designed to support the delivery of key topics within design & technology and science.

What is the James Webb Space Telescope?

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is the largest and most powerful telescope ever to be launched into space. It is a monumental leap in space exploration, building on the legacy of the Hubble Space Telescope. The JWST is the next great space science observatory, with a primary mission to unravel the mysteries of the universe. It will address lingering questions and achieve groundbreaking revelations across all fields of astronomy.

With its powerful infrared telescope, the JWST can see much fainter and more distant objects than the Hubble Space Telescope, including stars shrouded in dust clouds, molecules in the atmospheres of other worlds, and light from the first stars and galaxies.

The JWST is equipped with a suite of cutting-edge instruments that will allow it to study the universe in unprecedented detail. These instruments will help us better understand the Solar System, the formation of stars and planets, and the evolution of galaxies. The JWST is a revolutionary telescope that will blaze new trails in exploration. It is already making headlines with its first images, and it is sure to continue to amaze us for years to come.

Suggested learning outcomes

By the end of this activity, students will know that a sensor is a device that monitors changes in a physical environment, that a sensor is an input transducer, and that sensors are part of an electronic system.

The engineering context

Sensors are used as the input devices for almost every remote operating system. There are many examples of this on the James Webb Space Telescope.

Download the free activity sheet below!

All activity sheets and supporting resources are free to download, and all the documents are fully editable so that you can tailor them to your students and your schools’ needs.

The activity sheet includes teacher notes, guidance, helpful web links, and links (where appropriate) to the national curriculum in the four devolved UK nations: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

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