The Earth in Space: Passing Time

3. Succession of Time

Suggested Learning Intentions

  • To understand that two or more different events are organised sequentially, and that events can occur simultaneously
  • To understand that successive events are marked by the iteration (repetition) of the duration of various units of time

Sample Success Criteria

  • I can sequence a series of events in order based on when they occurred or will occur
  • I can list events that occur at the same time
  • I can create, interpret, and follow a timetable using successive time slots
  • I can describe succession of time in hours and minutes
  • I can create a timeline of events involving past, present, and future
  • I can demonstrate my understanding using manipulatives

This activity is based on Lesson 1: An Astronaut's Day from reSolve.

Introduce the activity by saying:

'Now that we have learned that some of our units of time are based on the movement of the earth and the moon, wouldn’t it be interesting to go into space and learn more! Today we are going to imagine that we have gone into space to go to the International Space Station (ISS), so that we can conduct some experiments. I wonder what it would be like to travel in space and to spend time at the International Space Station.'

Show students this video about the International Space Station (ISS)
After watching, discuss what tasks need to be done on the ISS with students. Explain that they will be developing a schedule for themselves and two others who will be on the ISS. 

Use the reSolve PowerPoint (1a ISS Schedule) to introduce the activity. Students can insert their own names on slide 6 (names of three astronauts).

1. Creating a Schedule

Hand out the information sheet for students from Lesson 1. Students will use it to develop a 24-hour schedule for three astronauts. There is a general list of duties for all astronauts and a list of individual duties for each astronaut. These lists must be worked on together to ensure that each astronaut is able to carry out each of their duties without any conflict due to the confined space.

Encourage students to problem solve with a partner or in small groups to develop a way to display their schedule.

Ask the following questions throughout the activity:

  • How might you organise your schedule?
  • How will you make sure that you have included everything?
  • What size time units (time slots) might you break your schedule up into?
  • Are any events happening at the same time? If so, how will you record this?
  • Is there any time within the day where nothing is happening? If so, how will you record this? (Note that one example is shown in the reSolve resources on the Teacher sheet within Lesson 1).

Enable students by using only the first page of the student sheet, which lists the general duties of astronauts. They do not need to include the specific details for each astronaut.

Extend students by suggesting to them that another astronaut has arrived. You need to assign this person some jobs. Include this fourth person into your schedule.

2. Creating a Timeline

This activity is based on Lesson 2: Monday Morning at Mission Control

Use the reSolve PowerPoint (2a Mission Control) to introduce the activity:

"It is Monday midday, Day 173 of the current ISS Expedition 58. The Flight Director has just taken a break and gone up to the Viewing Gallery to meet with a visiting Australian film crew, who are preparing a documentary on the Mission Control Centre and its role with the International Space Station. This is the start of their interview…"

On slide 11 of the PowerPoint there are some additional questions that the film crew asked Thelma the Flight Director.

Students complete Lesson 2 interview questions.

To answer these questions, students will need to construct timelines. See if they can work this out themselves without you needing to suggest this to them first.

Enable students by providing them with a collection of different coloured sticky notes. Support students to record each event on a sticky note. A strip of masking tape on the floor or desk can be used to create a timeline. Students can decide on a scale for their timeline and then manipulate the events as needed. Model how to place events on the timeline to meet student learning needs. See reSolve Year 6 – Mission Control to ISS Lesson 2 for additional learning supports.

Extend students by asking them to come up with additional questions, focusing on different parts of the project. 

Ask the students the following questions:

  • What could help you answer these questions? What might you need to do?
  • Will you need to complete some calculations? How will you go about this?

(See Lesson 2 for a timeline example, along with answers to the questions).

Areas for further exploration

Additional activities to experience working with timetables:

This stage is focused on building students’ understanding of timetables and schedules. This includes understanding that timetables and schedules are created by ordering events in succession. These events are organised by equivalent units of time that are repeated over and over during the 24-hour period. Students will also come to understand that some events can occur simultaneously. Students will demonstrate their understanding by creating and interpreting timetables and schedules.

You can assess students’ understanding by asking them the following questions:

  • How did you create your timetable/schedule? Using a diagram, table or Thinkboard, explain how you created your timetable. A Thinkboard template is available in the Materials and texts section.
  • What unit of time did you divide your timetable/schedule into?
  • If something lasted a shorter or longer time than this time unit, how did you record this?
  • What event happened first? What happened last?
  • Was there more than one event that occurred at the same time? If so, how did you record this?
  • Name three pieces of information you can get from your timetable.

Australian Academy of Science, 2020. Time: Mission Control to ISS. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Australian Academy of Science, n.d. reSolve: Maths by Inquiry. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools, 2013. Key Ideas for Concept Development in Mathematics. East Melbourne: Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools.

SciShow Kids, 2015. Take a Tour of the Space Station. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

State Government of Victoria (Department of Education and Training), n.d. Organising a Weekly Timetable. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Thomas, M., 2018. A matter of time: an investigation into the learning and teaching of time in the middle primary years. Australian Catholic University: Unpublished Doctoral Thesis.

Thomas, M., 2020. A Matter of Time. Prime Number, 35(1).

Thomas, M., Clarke, D., McDonough, A. & Clarkson, P., 2016. Time: Assessing Understanding of Core Ideas: Opening up mathematics education research (Proceedings of the 39th annual conference of the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia). Adelaide, MERGA, pp. 592-599.

Thomas, M., Clarke, D., McDonough, A. & Clarkson, P., 2016. Understanding Time: A Research Based Framework: Opening up mathematics education research (Proceedings of the 39th annual conference of the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia. Adelaide, MERGA.

University of Cambridge, n.d. NRICH: Train Timetable. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

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