Education Work

Deep Space Diary

2021 is a big year for space! When it launches in December, the James Webb Space Telescope will be the biggest space telescope of all time, able to explore the universe as never before. The successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, Webb has been built by, and will be used by, a global team including people all ov

For the past two years we have been working with the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and Dr Olivia Johnson to design our third space-themed primary education programme – the Deep Space Diary. This programme is themed around the science behind the James Webb Space Telescope and it opens primary students up to the wonders of our Universe, while they complete over 60 hours of arts-based science activities.

Thanks to the support of the STFC, we gifted 15,300 copies of the first Deep Space Diary to students across the UK, with a focus on areas of economic deprivation. To celebrate the launch of Webb in 2021, STFC provided further funding to distribute an additional 35,000 copies of the Diary across the UK, in English and Welsh.

The Deep Space Diary invites students to look at the world in new ways, while they design and launch their own space telescopes. How would we appear if our eyes could detect different wavelengths, like infrared? What could we see around us that might otherwise be hidden? What role do artists play in challenging the assumptions we all make? Questions like these not only support the development of critical thinking, they foster crucial skills like empathy and communication.

With the James Webb Space Telescope launching in late 2021, now is the perfect opportunity to use a real-time space mission to engage students in STEM-learning. The Deep Space Diary is available in book form, or as free downloadable activity sheets.

See the Deep Space Diary in action with teacher Claire Loizos

Every activity is supported with comprehensive teaching notes, so non-specialist educators and parents can feel confident guiding students on their mission to deep space.

This cross-curricular programme uses the arts to support students who find the sciences challenging, giving each child an access point, regardless of their interests or natural abilities. Its hands-on, personalisable methodology heightens engagement, catering to different learning styles and neurodiversity while empowering each student with ownership of their imagined space mission.

Written by astronomer Dr Olivia Johnson and Curved House Kids, the Diary has benefited from the expertise of STEM experts across the sector, as well as our wonderful team of teacher consultants, to ensure that the programme is easily integrated into curricular, and complementary to existing lesson plans. 


  • KS2 resources with ideas for differentiation to support or challenge students
  • Teaching notes for each activity
  • Curriculum guides for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales
  • Free, downloadable Teachers Info Pack 
  • Teacher timelines for easy programme integration into a term, half-term or intensive week
  • Blank lesson plan and reflection templates
  • Flexible structure that allows activities to be experienced in order, chapter-by-chapter, or used standalone for individual lessons
  • Multimedia features including a special video message from ESA astronaut Tim Peake, plus photos, images and other resources from real deep space missions and space telescopes
  • Profiles real, diverse STEM experts to help every student ‘see’ themselves in STEM
  • Incentives for students like Mission Badge stickers
  • Approved for Children’s University Passport programme
  • Hard copy books available as class sets, single copies or Home Education packs
  • Available in English and Welsh
Education Work

Generation Visual Primary Education Project

Generation Visual (GenV for short) is a primary school programme that uses art to open up conversations about culture, identity and community. It was developed by Kristen Harrison at The Curved House and educator Dee Mulrooney at Wangari Maathai International School in Berlin, with the kind support of BegaSchule Berlin.

The Programme

The first pilot programme ran over 10 weeks in 2020. In this time, students at Wangari Maathai International School engaged with critical analysis of art, developed visual literacy skills, learnt about a diverse group of contemporary artists and strengthened communication, listening and empathy.

Why art? Art allows for courageous conversations that are rich in perspectives and free from judgement.

Kristen Harrison

The Artists

The lessons were based around three contemporary artists, each chosen for their approach to making work, their artistic thinking and their influences which we felt would greatly inspire students. Using videos, artworks and specific creative tasks, students engaged deeply with their work while exploring a range of ideas around culture, identity and prejudice.

Adébayo Bolaji
Joanna Kidney
Ebun Oladeru

We started with the work of Adébayo Bolaji and the theme of “Play”. Students watched a video of the artist discussing his play-based approach and how he finds his connection to his artwork by allowing himself to be in the moment, moving and making. Adébayo has a very physical approach, walking around his canvas or standing over it to paint from above, so we ran a series of activities that got students playing and creating in this way.

After a Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) session discussing a portrait of an Egyptian god by Adébayo, called “Graffiti”, students developed their own portraits of Egyptian gods. These sessions were very freeing and fun but they also allowed for more serious themes to emerge such as how we depict each other and ourselves and how those depictions might emerge from history (like the Egyptian tomb paintings) to tell alternate stories.

In the second module, Joanna Kidney‘s work encouraged the students to create a connection with their environment, found or even mundane objects and each other. Joanna created a studio visit video to show students where she worked and describe the process of creating a work. Joanna’s work takes often ordinary objects and turns them into extraordinary artworks and this aspect sparked conversation around the meaning of things. Students developed empathy by creating works that included objects that were precious to someone they knew (e.g. a parent, sibling or friend) and talked about respecting things that may not appear to hold value, but are intrinsically valuable to someone else.

In the final module students looked at the work of Irish artist and prop designer, Ebun Oladeru, whose brilliant spoken word poem More Blacks, More Dogs, More Irish talks about black Irish history, racism and the prejudice Ebun faced growing up in inner-city Dublin. Ebun created a video for students introducing them to the idea of “Artivism” (using art as a form of activism) and set them the task of creating a work that expresses something big about a cause or issue they feel passionate about.

Visual Thinking Strategies

The programme is grounded in Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS), a model for talking about art developed by Abigail Houson and Philip Yenawine. This well-established model enabled open and organic dialogue and helped to establish a safe space for conversations that might otherwise be difficult or intimidating.

Gen V in 2022: Focus on Climate Change

Thanks to Dee Mulrooney and Wangari Maathai International School, we have received further funding to develop an extension of Generation Visual for the school, with a focus on climate change action. Stay tuned for more as we develop Gen V 2.0.

Student Gallery

Exploring symmetry

Exploring found objects in the environment

Education Work

Principia Space Diary

In 2015, ESA astronaut Tim Peake went on his first space mission to the ISS. While Tim was in space, his mission ojective back on Earth was to inspire as many children as possible to see themselves in careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). The UK Space Agency managed a portfolio of education projects to achieve this objective, including the Principia Space Diary. We created this free arts-based science programme with author Lucy Hawking, and distributed almost 40,000 copies to UK primary schools.

Tim Peake’s cheer squad at Simonside Primary School

This programme was so successful that we received further funding in 2017 to create a new version of the Principia Space Diary that could be used in classrooms for years to come. Available in book form or as free downloadable activity sheets, the Principia Space Diary remains a core resource for hundreds of schools. It contains 60+ hours of curriculum-linked activities that take students through astronaut training, launching a rocket and conducting experiments in space.

“I am a home educator for my son Luke who is 7. He has special needs where he gets very anxious and doesn’t concentrate well. All that changed doing the Space Diary. He suddenly became eager to complete the chapters. He has learnt so much and constantly goes around telling anyone that will listen facts he has learnt from the Space Diary.”

Laura Irvine, Home Educator

Tim Peake inspired children to imagine themselves in space and STEM careers. Our goal with this programme was to ensure that this inspiration reached children who might not have an interest in science or who might not see themselves in STEM. Our cross-curricular and multimodal activities – all with a creative and visual approach – made the science accessible, regardless of interest or ability. Students also personalise their diary giving them ownership and confidence.

This program has had a fantastic impact on our class… This has inspired the pupils so much that we are now going to apply for our eco schools award. 

Jennifer Love, Taynuilt

Written and developed by Lucy Hawking and Curved House Kids, the Space Diary programme was made possible by funding from the UK Space Agency and the European Space Agency, with additional academic support from Professor Peter McOwan at Queen Mary University of London and a fabulous team of teacher consultants and STEM experts.


  • Finalist for the Sir Arthur Clarke Award for Education and Outreach Team, 2017
  • KS2 resources with ideas for differentiation for KS1/P2-3
  • Teaching notes for each activity
  • Curriculum guides for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales
  • Teacher timelines for easy programme integration into a term, half-term or intensive week
  • Blank lesson plan and reflection templates
  • Flexible structure that allows activities to be experienced in order, chapter-by-chapter, or used standalone for individual lessons
  • Multimedia features including original video footage and a special message from ESA astronaut Tim Peake, plus photos and other videos of Tim taken aboard the ISS
  • Profiles real, diverse STEM experts to help students ‘see’ themselves in STEM
  • Hard copy book available as class sets, single copies or Home Education packs
  • Incentives for students like Mission Badge stickers
  • Approved for Children’s University Passport programme
  • Available in English and Welsh

“It is a massive testament to the skill of whoever designed the Space Diary that not one child had ‘lost’ theirs over the summer. Indeed they treasure them.”

Teresa Harris, Head of Science 

Education Work

Visual Literacy Today

Visual Literacy Today is an online magazine first founded in 2017 by Kristen Harrison, publisher at The Curved House. It is now co-run with Dana Statton Thompson, a librarian and academic at Murray State University, US.

What began as a general interest website about visual literacy has grown, largely thanks to the initatives of Dana Statton Thompson, into a go-to resource for academics, artists, educators and practitioners all around the world.

Carnegie Whitney Grant

Co-editor of Visual Literacy Today, Dana Statton Thompson, was awarded the Carnegie Whitney Grant, supporting the addition of an extensive bibliography of visual literacy.

In 2019, Dana was awarded a Carnegie Whitney Grant from the American Library Association to create Recommended Reads for Visual Literacy, an extensive bibliography of articlesbooks, and archival materials that seeks to serve as a detailed web resource for visual literacy. 

In 2020, with generous support from the International Visual Literacy Association, we added another new feature: a Teacher Resource section enabling visual literacy experts around the world to share their VL teaching materials.

We look forward to further partnerships that can support wider dissemination of the ideas, resources and research generated by the global Visual Literacy community.

Education Work

Make Your Own Book Workshops

Drawing is a powerful pathway to literacy and art has the capacity to open up books and reading to all children. We developed the “Make Your Own Book” model to help creative kids discover the joy of reading. These books have either illustrations and no story, for children to write their own books, or a story but no pictures, for children to illustrate their own book. By combining personalisation with the empowering experience of being part of the creative process as “illustrator” or “author”, children engage deeply and are inspired to learn and communicate.

We have run illustrator-led workshops in schools, kindergartens and local libraries in the UK, US and Germany; festivals including Southbank Imagine Festival and Islington Word Festival; museums and galleries including IMMA Dublin.

Pick up your own copies from Central Books and contact us to run a workshop for you!

Education Work

Let’s Build a Rocket!

In 2018, TSB Bank ran a ‘Let’s Build a Rocket’ competition for primary schools with KS2 students. The winning school won a half-day workshop with scientist Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock and former TSB CEO and theoretical physicist Dr Paul Pester.

In collaboration with TSB and author Lucy Hawking, Curved House Kids created a STEM activity pack to be completed during the workshop, containing maths and science activities themed around building a rocket to Mars. The purpose of the competition and its workshop was to get KS2 children excited about STEM-learning, as they engaged with it in a fun and novel way.

The winning school was St Luke’s C of E Primary in Merseyside, whose Year 5 class enjoyed the workshop as part of British Science Week.

To learn more about the ‘Let’s Build a Rocket’ competition, visit the TSB website.

Visit the St Luke’s website to read about their workshop.

Personalised for individual schools

The children loved the workshops and are more excited about STEM than ever before. It was amazing for the children to meet some ‘real scientists’ as they called them and to realise that science and STEM are a real option for a career.

Sharon Cowey, Head Teacher, St Luke’s Primary School