NGSS ESS1.A MS-ESS1-2 Universe Stars Galaxy Scale Activity


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Use Neil deGrasse Tyson to engage and teach your students where the earth is in the universe! I use this activity as an introduction to Astronomy, but it can easily fit just about anywhere into a unit. Students come into this activity with no scaffolding from me, only what prior knowledge they may have which leads to a great metacognitive exercise!

This resources is Google Ready for Distance Learning!!!

You will need to purchase Cosmos season 1 episode 1 from YouTube or Amazon Prime for $1.00-$2.00 or use this 2:43 link: I prefer to purchase the episode, it’s 10 minutes and more interesting.

Students start with their prior knowledge to guess our “Worldly Address”, typically town, county, state, country, continent, etc. We start on Earth and then work our way outward and learn about our “Cosmic Address”. Students again use prior knowledge, but this time it’s with space in mind. After several minutes I have students share their ideas with the class. I then play a clip from Cosmos: A Space Time Odyssey with Neil deGrasse Tyson. After watching the video, students learn that Earth is in a Solar System, in the Milky Way Galaxy, part of the Local Group of galaxies, in the Virgo Super Cluster in the Observable Universe.

Students then reflect on their prior knowledge and how their new knowledge has changed from beginning to end of the activity. Students then extend their learning into the location of our galaxy, nearby galaxies, the number of stars in our galaxy, why our location in the Milky Way is safe for life and that our Milky Way Galaxy is one of billions of galaxies.

Your students will learn and have so much fun!!!

NGSS Disciplinary Core Idea (DCI):

ESS1.A:  The Universe and Its Stars

· Earth and its solar system are part of the Milky Way galaxy, which is one of many galaxies in the universe. 

NGSS Cross Cutting Concepts (CCC):

· Scale, Proportion and Quantity

· Systems and System Models

NGSS Science and Engineering Practices (SEP):

· Analyzing and Interpreting Data

· Obtaining, Evaluating and Communicating Information.

This resource includes the following:

Student Handout

Handout Key

Detailed Teacher Notes

Astronomy Article


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