The Universe in Three Baskets: Matter, Energy, and Space

The Universe is vast but maybe if we discover it in small steps it will seem less daunting.

Gazing upon the vastness of the cosmos can stir a profound sense of wonder in anyone, especially young learners. But how do we make sense of such a grand expanse? Dive into our latest essay where we break down the universe into three approachable “baskets” – Matter, Energy, and Space. By categorising everything from the atoms that make up our own bodies to the vast stretches between the stars, we offer a simplified yet intriguing lens to view and understand the Universe.

Perfect for sparking curiosity and igniting the imaginations of the next generation of cosmic explorers!


When we gaze up at the night sky, full of twinkling stars and vast galaxies, we’re observing the incredible universe that surrounds us. But what is this universe made of? For young learners, understanding the intricacies of the cosmos might seem daunting. However, by breaking it down into three basic “baskets” – Matter, Energy, and Space – we can provide an accessible lens for children to begin their journey of cosmic discovery.

Basket One: “Matter” – The “Something” We’re Made Of

Every person, every tree, and even the screen you’re reading this on is made of “something.” This “something” is what we term as matter.

Let’s take the human body as an example. What are we made of? Some might say skin, blood, and bones. Dive a little deeper and we discover cells, the basic units of life. Under a microscope, our skin cells look like a patchwork of interconnected patterns, buzzing with activity. But what are these cells made of? They are comprised of molecules, and these molecules are formed from atoms. Atoms are like the tiny building blocks of everything around us. They come together in countless ways to create the myriad of things we see, touch, and feel every day. We can think of them like lego bricks, as we can use the same type of brick to build different things, so atoms in different combinations create trees, stones, planets, flowers or children.

Basket Two: “Energy” – The Invisible Force

Energy might seem mysterious because we can’t always see it, but its effects are everywhere. It’s in the warmth of sunlight on our skin, the glow of a light bulb, and the waves we use to cook our food in a microwave.

To make it relatable for children, think of energy like the strings on a guitar. Just as each string vibrates at a different frequency to produce unique sounds, energy has different frequencies too. These frequencies form the electromagnetic spectrum. Some of these, like visible light, we can see. Others, like microwaves or gamma rays, remain invisible to our eyes but play crucial roles in the universe and our daily lives.

Basket Three: “Space” – The Great “Nothing”

Between the stars, planets, and galaxies, there’s a vast expanse that might seem empty. This is space. While it’s tempting to think of space as “nothing,” it’s a little more complex than that. Space is the stage upon which the drama of the universe unfolds. Without it, there’s no room for stars to shine or planets to orbit. Space might seem empty, but it’s teeming with potential, and its properties influence everything from the movement of galaxies to the paths of comets.


The universe is a vast and complex tapestry of phenomena, but by categorizing its contents into these three baskets of Matter, Energy, and Space, we simplify it for young learners. By exploring what we’re made of, the energies that affect us, and the space in which it all happens, we embark on a journey to understand our place in this vast cosmos. This framework provides an accessible starting point, sparking curiosity and wonder in young minds, and laying the foundation for deeper exploration in the years to come.

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