GRAVITY AND FUSION
ESTIMATED TIME TO COMPLETE: One 50-minute period
CONCEPT(S) LEARNED IN THIS MODULE:
- Students will be able to describe the relationship between gravity and nuclear fusion as these relate to star formation, and explain that stars are formed by the gravitational collapse of nebulae.
STANDARDS ADDRESSED IN THIS MODULE:
- Stars are formed by the gravitational collapse of nebulae and undergo nuclear fusion at their cores, which is the energy source of all stars.
AAAS Project 2061 Benchmarks
- On the basis of scientific evidence, the universe is estimated to be over ten billion years old. The current theory is that its entire contents expanded explosively from a hot, dense, chaotic mass. Stars condensed by gravity out of clouds of molecules of the lightest elements until nuclear fusion of the light elements into heavier ones began to occur. Fusion released great amounts of energy over millions of years. Eventually, some stars exploded, producing clouds of heavy elements from which other stars and planets could later condense. The process of star formation and destruction continues. (4A, Grades 9-12)
National Science Education Standards (Content Standard A, Grades 9-12)
- Stars produce energy from nuclear reactions, primarily the fusion of hydrogen to form helium. These and other processes in stars have led to the formation of all the other elements.
Maryland State Department of Education High School Science Core Learning Goals
TECHNOLOGY-ENHANCED INSTRUCTIONAL STRATEGIES UTILIZED IN THIS MODULE:
- The student will use a variety of resources to identify techniques used to investigate Earth and the Universe.
- The student will explain the role of natural forces in the formation of galaxies.
- Image Presentation
- Information Searches
Click on the hot links below to download PowerPoint
slides or to follow links to other sites.
||Brief Description of Module
||Materials / Technology
||Warm-up activity and questions regarding the crushing of a styrofoam
||Individual or small groups
||Overhead projector (OP) or PowerPoint (PP) to post the Warm Up
questions, and small styrofoam cups for the first day.
||Discussion of student answers and presentation of various images of
nebulae and regions of star formation. Use an inflated balloon to further
illustrate the balance between gravity and nuclear fusion.
||Overhead projector (OP) or PowerPoint (PP) to show the images and
A Human Nebula activity questions.
||The sun formed from a cloud of dust and gas that collapsed and underwent nuclear fusion at its core. The greater the size of a star, the greater its gravity, the greater the energy released by nuclear fusion.
||Access to the internet: Fusion Animations
||Research the history of the hydrogen bomb, or the different kinds of nebulae.
||Access to the internet.
Picture of the Day Archive
||Students will be evaluated on the quality of their answers.
||Rubric (of studentís design if desired)
EXPECTED MODULE OUTCOMES:
PERFORMANCE-BASED ASSESSMENT OF MODULE OUTCOMES:
- Students will discover that the spherical shape of stars is the result of a balance between gravity and nuclear fusion and that stars are formed from the gravitational collapse of large clouds of dust and gas.
- Students will be able to describe what nebulae are, what nuclear fusion is and how gravity holds stars together.