Star Light, Star Bright-Part 1

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SWBAT define what a star is and learn more about the different types of stars.

Big Idea

Stars are the most commonly known objects of the universe and they are the building blocks of galaxies.

Lesson Overview and 5E Lesson Plan

5 minutes

Unit 2:Sun-Earth Connection (Solar System)

Lesson 14 : Star Light, Star Bright- Part 1.

5E Lesson Planning:

I plan most of my science lessons using the BSCS 5E Lesson Model: Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate.For a quick overview of the model, take a look at this video.

I use this lesson model because it peaks the students' interest in the beginning during the "Engage" portion and allows for the students to actively participate in the investigations throughout the subsequent steps. The “Evaluate” component of the 5E Lesson Model can be used in many ways by the teacher and by the students.

A great resource for lesson plan frameworks and explanations is the Community Resources for Science. The 5E Lesson Planning Template and 5E Lesson Planning Prompts come from this website. 

Unit Overview:

In this Unit students will learn about the solar system by studying the sun, the moon, planets and stars. In the first three lessons the students will learn about the Sun. Lessons 4 through 7 focus on the movement of the Earth around the Sun. Lessons 8 is lesson about Orreries, lessons 9 and 10 cover solar eclipses, lessons 11 and 12 are about the moon, lesson 13 discusses the other planets in the Solar System, and the last 3 lessons; 14-16 are about stars and constellations.  

Lesson Overview:

In this lesson students will learn about what a star is and why they are the building blocks to our galaxy. They will do this by reading and analyzing an informational article.

You will also need the following materials to complete this lesson:

  • copies of Discovery Kids magazine Stars and Nebula (or other article about stars) for each student or student partnership
  • copy of worksheet

Next Generation Science Standards:

This lesson focuses on the Disciplinary Core Ideas and Crosscutting Concepts of the NGSS but not any specific performance expectations of the NGSS Standards. However, it is good background information for students for NGSS Standard 5-ESS1-1:Support an argument that the apparent brightness of the sun and stars is due to their relative distances from the Earth. It also supports 5-ESS1-2: Represent data in graphical displays to reveal daily changes in the length and direction of shadows, day and night, and the seasonal appearance of some stars in the night sky. 

Disciplinary Core Ideas: This lesson aligns to the Disciplinary Core Idea from the Earth and Space Science:

ESS1.B: Earth and the Solar System. The Earth’s orbit and rotation,and the orbit of the moon around the Earth cause observable patterns.

Crosscutting Concepts:


Similarities and differences in patterns can be used to sort, classify, communicate and analyze simple rates of change for natural phenomena. (5-ESS1-2)

Science and Engineering Practices:

Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

Any education in science and engineering needs to develop students’ ability to read and produce domain-specific text. As such, every science or engineering lesson is in part a language lesson, particularly reading and producing the genres of texts that are intrinsic to science and engineering.




10 minutes

I tell the students to get out their science notebooks and pencils and I tell them that I have a really important question to ask them. I explain that they will not say anything to each other for the next 3 minutes and that all they will be doing is writing and/or drawing an answer to my question. 

I ask if they are ready and when they say they are, I tell them that they have to write everything they know about my question and that they can't stop writing or drawing until I say STOP!. 

I tell them that I will give them some think time (about 30 seconds) and then they will start writing as soon as I tell them to start. 

I then ask them the big question- What is a star? I wait 30 seconds and then they start writing for 2 minutes. I keep encouraging them to write everything they know. After 2 minutes I tell them to Stop! and they put down their pencils. 

I then have the students do a Stand Up/Hand Up/ Pair Up to share with a partner some of the ideas they wrote down. The students stand up with their notebooks and walk around until I say "Pair" and then I give the partners 30 seconds each to share their ideas. I have them mix again and pair up with someone else.

I have the students return to their seats and I ask for students to share their ideas and I write them on the board. Some student responses include that a star is made up of gas, that they are tiny Suns, that they are big rocks made of fire, that they make up galaxies, that the Sun is a star, stars shine and night and some stars are farther away from Earth.


15 minutes

I tell the students that we are becoming astronomers and that we will be discovering what a star is.  I tell them to think about the ideas we shared and I tell them that we are going to do a pre-reading activity to find out what else they know about stars. 

I give each student a copy of page 3 from Kids Discover Teacher's Guide called "Get Set to Read". It's a list of statements from the Kids Discover Magazine "Stars and Nebulae" which we will be reading to learn more about stars. The teacher's guide is a free resource and I purchased a class set of the magazine. 

I tell the students to complete the left column by deciding if the statement is True or False and they write either True or False space on the Stars True False sheet. After they complete the True/False statements, i have them talk to a partner about them and tell their partner why they wrote their answers.

After the partners have discussed the True/False statements, I tell them that they will be reading an article together to see if their answers were correct. Here are two students discussing the statements: Student Discussion- Star statements



45 minutes

I give each student a copy of the Kids Discover Magazine "Stars and Nebulae" and I explain to them that they will now read the magazine and find the answers to the statements and write their answers in the right column as well as the page number they found the answers on. They do this with a partner and discuss the answers with them. Here are 2 students discussing the article to find information to answer the statements. 

I walk around to help as needed and realize that the students are having a difficult time finding the answers. I call the students attention and project the "Get Set to Read" worksheet on the board. I then read  the first statement with the students Stars are large masses of gas held together by their own gravity and ask what they answered. Most of the students answered "True" and I ask where they found the answer in the magazine. A few students say they found the answer on pages 2 and 3 and I then open a copy of the magazine and ask them where the answer is.  

A few students point out the the worksheet statements aren't what is written in the magazine, but the information is there. I tell everyone that they are using some reading skills such as inference and finding context clues to get the answers to the statements.

I decide to give the students the page numbers for each statement to help them with finding the answers. This can be found on page 9 of the Kids Discover Teacher's Guide and I give them more time to finish finding the answers in the magazine with a partner. We go over the answers and find that half of the statements are false and half of them are true. I also want the students to complete the challenge piece of the worksheet which is to re-write the false statements to make them true. 

To check their understanding, I then have the students answer the following questions:

  • What is a star?
  • What is a nebula?
  • Name 2-3 different types of stars.
  • What did you learn?

They write the answers to these questions on the back of the worksheet. Here is student answers to star questions and Star article answers.