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I am currently teaching my astronomy unit -- we have been working our way from our solar system, through star life cycles and galaxies out to the "big picture". Students are fascinated with the big bang theory, so I usually end my astronomy unit with it. It is a difficult theory for adults to grasp, let alone 7th and 8th graders. Any middle school teachers have success in teaching this topic in a way that students can understand? If so, I'd love to hear your ideas.
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This theory has so many underlying theories that feed into it that I don't attempt to teach it, I teach some of the underlying theories (like parallax, Doppler effect, and what a light year really means - like when we say a star is 4.5 light years away it means our picture is 4.5 years old when it arrives) and then show a video that discusses Big Bang and leave it for a higher level. Like you say, adults have problems with it and if I help them to understand some of the underlying theories then when they are older and are capable of more abstract thought they can build on these things to understand the general idea of the Big Bang.
Oh and I point out that the Big Bang did NOT form the solar system - something they tend to put on tests. However if you would like a basic demonstration you could run through with them you might try this article. Like the reviewer for it mentions, Big Bang Theory is recommended for grades 9-12 because of all the other things students need to grasp before they are ready to put it all together and deal with it.
Science 101: How do we know the universe is expanding, and what exactly does that mean? (Journal Article)
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Hi Megan, I love the resource that Tina mentioned, too. Anything by Dr. Robertson is outstanding! Have you checked out the NASA video clips on the Big Bang and related topics?
Also, Imagine the Universe has some great resources for classroom use.
Also, when I did an advance search in the Learning Center using the term "big bang", 12 resources popped up. Just type in big bang where it says "keyword".
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I am unsure where you are located, but if you are near NYC, the AMNH has a spectacular room designed to replicate the big bang! They also have a downloadable digital universeat the link below. Enjoy!
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Hi Keith and Big Bang Enthusiasts
I agree that teaching the Big Bang for complete understanding may be beyond middle level understanding. It looks like a wonderful way to end an astronomy unit to whet students curiosity.
Keith , I looked over the video The Known Universe created from Digital Universe Atlas. This might be a great way to introduce this topic
Here it is on Youtube
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17jymDn0W6U&feature=player_embedded'' target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17jymDn0W6U&feature=player_embedded' target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17jymDn0W6U&feature=player_embedded
The Known Universe takes viewers from the Himalayas through our atmosphere and the inky black of space to the afterglow of the Big Bang. Every star, planet, and quasar seen in the film is possible because of the world's most complete four-dimensional map of the universe, the Digital Universe Atlas that is maintained and updated by astrophysicists at the American Museum of Natural History. The new film, created by the Museum, is part of an exhibition, Visions of the Cosmos: From the Milky Ocean to an Evolving Universe, at the Rubin Museum of Art in Manhattan through May 2010.[/i]
Arlene Jurewicz Leighton
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One my favorite sites for exploring Big Bang theory is NASA's Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe website. Their Cosmology: The Study of the Universe gives good basic and continuously updated information about Universe 101
This primer in cosmological concepts is organized as follows:
•The main concepts of the Big Bang theory are introduced in the first section with scant regard to actual observations.
•The second section discusses the classic tests of the Big Bang theory that make it so compelling as the most likely valid and accurate description of our universe.
•The third section discusses observations that highlight limitations of the Big Bang theory and point to a more detailed model of cosmology than the Big Bang theory alone provides. As discussed in the first section, the Big Bang theory predicts a range of possibilities for the structure and evolution of the universe.
•The final section discusses what constraints we can place on the nature of our universe based on current data, and indicates how WMAP furthers our understanding of cosmology.
•In addition, a few related topics are discussed based on commmonly asked questions.
My best, Arlene JL
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