Imagine the Universe!
III. Classroom Activities

Additional activities, and expanded versions of these activities, complete with student worksheets, may be found at

Grandma's Apple Pie

Grandma's Apple Pie
(By Edward Docalavich Jr., The Heritage Academy, Hilton Head Island, SC)

Carl Sagan is quoted as saying, "To make an apple pie from scratch you must first invent the universe." Working in groups, students create a presentation that illustrates the meaning of this statement. Each group selects an element that can be found in an apple pie and traces its evolutionary history back its origin in one or more of the processes discussed in this booklet. The students' discussion should address briefly the recycling of elements here on earth, as well as the formation of elements in the cores of active stars and supernovae. Students should describe the way in which these elements were dispersed from the star through space and ultimately to the Earth. Students should also include their vision of the environment in which that element may find itself 5 or so billion years from now after the Earth is long gone. Both the tracing of the element back through time and the creative vision of that element in the future should show an understanding of the "life cycle" of matter. Each presentation should be less than 15 minutes in length, and also include an artistic element an original song, an illustration, a poem, a video, etc. that aides in explaining the scientific concepts that are being illustrated. Each presentation must show a solid understanding of the scientific concepts being discussed.

A suggested student handout for this activity is available at

Elemental Haiku

Elemental Haiku
(By Kim Cochrane, Bowie High School, Bowie MD)

A Haiku is a poem with a certain rhyming pattern. The Haiku pattern has three lines - the first line has five syllables, the second line has seven syllables, and the third line has five syllables. For example,

      Projects left undone,                     Pi - ratio of
Nobel prizes never won-                     Around: across a circle -
      buried messy desk.                        An endless number?
             - Stuart Henderson                       - Anonymous

Brainstorm topics that concern the cosmic origin of the elements and write them on the chalk board. Have students work independently to write at least one 3-line Haiku. The Haiku's topic must be something that is on the board from the class brainstorm. Have the students write their Haiku as large as possible on 8.5 x 11 paper so that it can be displayed. Encourage students to accompany their poem with a picture. When completed, have students read their Haiku to the class and discuss the information within it. Display the Haikus on a wall or bulletin board.

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Imagine the Universe is a service of the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC), Dr. Alan Smale (Director), within the Astrophysics Science Division (ASD) at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

The Imagine Team
Acting Project Leader: Dr. Barbara Mattson
All material on this site has been created and updated between 1997-2012.

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