The Evidence is Clear

Contributor
High Energy Astrophysics Archive Research Center at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Types
Lesson/Lesson Plan
Note
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be “fully aligned,” the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.

Reviews

Description

The Cosmic Times is a series of  curriculum materials that trace the history of our understanding of the universe during the past 100 years, from Einstein’s formulation of gravity to the discovery of dark energy.   The instructional materials resemble the front page of a newspaper from that particular time in history in which the discovery was made.   The language of the articles mimics that of the newspaper from its respective era.

“The Evidence is Clear” is a 5E lesson from Cosmic Times created by the Astrophysics Science Division at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.  In this lesson students examine statements about the Big Bang and Steady State Theories to try to better understand the nature of our universe and how it began.  First students sort evidence statements into two piles; statements that based on direct evidence or statements that are an inference.  After reading the “Origin of Everything” article in the 1955 Cosmic Times, found here: https://cosmictimes.gsfc.nasa.gov/teachers/guide/1955/downloads.html,  students further sort the two piles of into support for the Big Bang Theory or the Steady State Theory.  After the first sort of cards, students should reread the article to confirm their sort.  From analyzing the evidence statements from the two theories, students will construct an explanation as to which which theory they determine has the most reliable evidence supporting it and why

Intended Audience

Educator
Educational Level
  • Grade 12
  • Grade 10
  • Grade 11
Language
English
Access Restrictions

Free access - The right to view and/or download material without financial, registration, or excessive advertising barriers.

Performance Expectations

HS-ESS1-2 Construct an explanation of the Big Bang theory based on astronomical evidence of light spectra, motion of distant galaxies, and composition of matter in the universe.

Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on the astronomical evidence of the red shift of light from galaxies as an indication that the universe is currently expanding, the cosmic microwave background as the remnant radiation from the Big Bang, and the observed composition of ordinary matter of the universe, primarily found in stars and interstellar gases (from the spectra of electromagnetic radiation from stars), which matches that predicted by the Big Bang theory (3/4 hydrogen and 1/4 helium).

Assessment Boundary: none

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this performance expectation, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
This lesson begins to look at the astronomical evidence behind the Big Bang Theory. Prior to the lesson, students should read the Cosmic Times 1955 article called “Origin of Everything: Hot Bang or Ageless Universe.” This will give the students some background before sorting the evidence statements. Additionally, students will need to be familiar with red shift, interstellar reddening, and a light year. Productive discourse both as a class and small group is vital to this lesson. A classroom culture for productive talk is needed for students to dig deep and construct their explanation. In this lesson, students will exam each other’s sorting of the evidence statements to come to consensus. Students may need additional support on what is an inference. In the Teacher’s Notes there is a list of keywords that you can use with the students to help guide them in identifying what is an inference and what is an actual observation. You can help guide the students by coming up with a list of words.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
In this lesson, students are addressing two theories; the Big Bang Model and the Steady State Model. The students are using and synthesizing information to help explain formation of the universe. These theories of how the universe is formed are controversial. Although the Big Bang Model has been successful in describing most of the observations, there are still many unanswered questions. When addressing controversial topics make sure the students understand: -what the norms are for discourse in your classroom, -the science content involved with the controversial topic, -the role that evidence based discourse and argumentation have in resolving controversies.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
In this lesson, students sort evidence statements into two types, direct evidence or inferences. They further sort each pile according to which model, the Big Bang Theory or the Steady State Theory, the evidence statement supports. The evidence statements directly relate to the Disciplinary Core Idea but more depth of study is needed for each statement. For example, an evidence statement says: “In 1929, Hubble observed that every galaxy he saw exhibited a spectral red shift that was proportional to its distance from us.” To better understand this statement, students need to have some experience with the visible light spectrum. Additionally, you may want students to do some activities with the Doppler effect, in that red shifts represent light as it stretches out as a source as moves farther away from the observer.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this crosscutting concept, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
The Cross Cutting Concept can be found in the Evidence Statement Cards, however it is not obvious. Students will need to dive deeper into the science content in the evidence cards. For example students could go deeper into the concept that the Universe in Expanding by demonstrating the expansion using a Hoberman Sphere.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: Students are examining evidence statements that have both inferences and empirical data to investigate two models: The Big Bang Theory and the Steady State Theory (Science and Engineering Practices). When looking at an expanding universe they do have to take into consideration scale and proportion (Cross Cutting Concept), but this is not evident in the card sort. I would suggest having the students define what scale and proportion are then having a whole class discussion about how scale and proportion relate back the idea of an expanding universe. Students do have to use the cards to identify evidence for the Big Bang (Disciplinary Core Idea) to construct an explanation. Students need to take a deeper dive into each Evidence Statement to better understand what is a light year or a red shift. Overall this lesson is heavier on the Disciplinary Core Idea and Science and Engineering Practices, while the Cross Cutting Concept is not clearly evident.

  • Instructional Supports: Productive discourse both as a class and small group is vital to this lesson. A classroom culture for productive talk is needed for students to dig deep and construct their explanation. A suggestion for instructional support would be to provide opportunities for discourse around the evidence statement sorting. This provides opportunities to express, clarify, justify, interpret, and represent their ideas and respond to peers orally. Through the student-led discourse students can connect their explanation of one of the two models; Big Bang Theory or Steady State Theory. The lesson does provide three different identified reading levels of the newspaper articles: 7-8, 9-10, and 11-12. To provide additional reading assistance the teacher could have Cosmic Times 1955 article, “Origin of Everything: Hot Bang or Ageless Universe,” recorded so students who have difficulty reading can listen to the article.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: The lesson does provide an opportunity for a summative evaluation by having students write a summary of the theory they determine has the most reliable evidence supporting it and why. However, the lesson does not contain any rubrics or scoring guidelines

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: No technological interactivity is required for this lesson.