The Origin of Matter

10 Minutes      Show us what you know right now 

            A. What causes stars to produce light?

            B. What causes some stars to explode? 

            C. What is an element?

D. What determines where an element should go on the periodic table?

E. Can atoms be broken apart? If so, how? 

F. What is and electron and why is it important? 

G. Why are gold mines in some places but not others? 

H. Name one way a metal is refined or formed  

I. What makes a material a good conductor of electricity?

10 Minutes    Big questions for discussion or reflection: Where do pennies come from?  

                      What are they made out of? Why is that material special?  


30 Minutes    Hands-on Learning Activity: Balloon Supernova 

                     Materials:  Large balloons, punched from different colored construction paper, paper plates, wall tacks, broom 

                     Procedure: 1. place the paper punch outs in the balloon and inflate it. 

                                        2. Tie off the balloon

                                        3. Shake the balloon about and watch the "atoms" move about furiously 

                                        4. Pop the balloons 

                                        5. Sweep up the pieces and place them in the paper plate                             

                       What did you learn from this activity?

                       Why are some ‘elements’ more rare than others?

                       What causes a star to explode?

                       What happens when a star explodes?

60 Minutes    Videos and reflection questions


What are you made of?

What two forces must be in balance to keep a star shining?               

            Elements, atoms and electrons 

What is an element?

Who created the periodic table we use today?            


 How was the earth formed?


 How are elements extracted from the earth?


                        What are some ways metals are refined?


                        How is steel turned from ingots into sheets?


                      What is a stamping die?  What part’s of Photon where made with this


60 Minutes      Additional questions: 

1.     How do metal products get to your house after they have gone though the stamping process?  Do some research and then list all of the steps.

2.    How is plastic made? 

3.    What does the word “plastic” mean?

4.    What is one very important way most plastics are different from copper?

5.    Can you think of one way this day one unit is preparing you for building Photon?

Key Terms 


Fusion is the process by which energy is released and elements are formed in stars


Fusion is the combining of light nuclei to form heavier elements and that it produces a lot of energy which we experience visible light and radiation


Gravity Is a force that attracts objects that have mass - the greater the force the greater the mass


Elements are building blocks of matter organized by the number of protons in their nucleus. Understand protons are positively charged, neutrons are neutral and electrons are negatively charged


Stars cannot fuse the element iron so they run out of fusion energy allowing gravity to cause the star to collapse and explode


Not all stars become supernovas, but the ones that do are some of the brightest things in the universe. When a star collapses during a supernova event the extreme forces allow it to create elements heavier than iron like gold


Gravity causes the bits of exploded stars to combine over millions of years forming a planet like earth


A mine is a place where ores are extracted from the earths crust


Elements must be refined from ore though various processes depending on the element being mined


Most metallic elements can be shaped and drawn through mechanical processes


Most products we use are put together on assembly lines


Packages protect and advertise our products


Products we use are shipped around the world in boats, planes, trains and trucks


Products we use are stored in stores until we buy them


An atom is the smallest part of matter that cannot be subdivided using mechanical or chemical means


A proton is a positively charged particle at the center or nucleus of an atom


The Neutron is a particle with no charge at the center or nucleus of an atom


An electron is a negatively charged particle that exists in orbit around the nucleus.

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