Lesson Guide for “From the Stars to the Table”

Content area and grade levels
Big question
Lesson overview

Content area and grade levels
Physical sciences and chemistry for grades 6-8.

Big question
How are stars and the elements connected?

Lesson overview
The discovery of dark line patterns within spectra led scientists to begin looking at different kinds of light to study the lines. One light source that was studied was burning elements. Scientists discovered that each element had a distinct line pattern when it burned. They turned their scopes to the Sun and found a pattern of lines that was never before seen. They discovered a new element in the Sun! Scientists studied the spectra of elements to learn more about atomic structure, leading to a new theory of the atom, Bohr’s Model. Highlights include:

  • Important scientists (Newton, Wollaston, von Fraunhofer, Bunsen, Kirchoff, Lockyer, Janssen, Bohr, Planck)
  • Discoveries about light
  • Innovations to scientific tools (telescope, diffraction grating, spectroscope)
  • Validity of simultaneous discoveries
  • Study of the elements


Illinois Learning Standards for middle/junior high school

Illinois Learning Standard 12C: Know and apply concepts that describe properties of matter and energy and the interactions between them.

12.C.3a Explain interactions of energy with matter with matter including changes of state and conservation of mass and energy.

Illinois Learning Standard 13B: Know and apply concepts that describe the interaction between science, technology and society.

13.B.3b Identify important contributions to science and technology that have been made by individuals and groups from various cultures.

13.B.3c Describe how occupations use scientific and technological knowledge and skills.


National Science Education Standards content standards for 5th-8th grade

Unifying Concepts and Processes Standard: Evidence, Models, and Explanation

Content Standard A Science as Inquiry: Understandings about Scientific Inquiry

• Technology used to gather data enhances accuracy and allows scientists to analyze and quantify results of investigations.
• Scientific investigations sometimes result in new ideas and phenomena for study, generate new methods or procedures for an investigation, or develop new technologies to improve the collection of data. All of these results can lead to new investigations.

Content Standard B Physical Science: Transfer of Energy

• Energy is a property of many substances and is associated with heat, light, electricity, mechanical motion, sound, nuclei, and the nature of a chemical. Energy is transferred in many ways.
• Light interacts with matter by transmission (including refraction), absorption, or scattering (including reflection). To see an object, light from that object--emitted by or scattered from it--must enter the eye.
• The sun is a major source of energy for changes on the earth's surface. The sun loses energy by emitting light. A tiny fraction of that light reaches the earth, transferring energy from the sun to the earth. The sun's energy arrives as light with a range of wavelengths, consisting of visible light, infrared, and ultraviolet radiation.


Content Standard E Science and Technology: Understandings about Science and Technology

• Many different people in different cultures have made and continue to make contributions to science and technology.
• Science and technology are reciprocal. Science helps drive technology, as it addresses questions that demand more sophisticated instruments and provides principles for better instrumentation and technique. Technology is essential to science, because it provides instruments and techniques that enable observations of objects and phenomena that are otherwise unobservable due to factors such as quantity, distance, location, size, and speed. Technology also provides tools for investigations, inquiry, and analysis.
• Technological designs have constraints. Some constraints are unavoidable, for example, properties of materials, or effects of weather and friction; other constraints limit choices in the design, for example, environmental protection, human safety, and aesthetics.

Content Standard F Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
: Science and Technology in Society

• Science and technology have advanced through contributions of many different people, in different cultures, at different times in history. Science and technology have contributed enormously to economic growth and productivity among societies and groups within societies.
• Scientists and engineers work in many different settings, including colleges and universities, businesses and industries, specific research institutes, and government agencies.


Content Standard G History and Nature of Science: Science as Human Endeavor

• Women and men of various social and ethnic backgrounds--and with diverse interests, talents, qualities, and motivations--engage in the activities of science, engineering, and related fields such as the health professions. Some scientists work in teams, and some work alone, but all communicate extensively with others.

Content Standard G History and Nature of Science: Nature of Science

• Scientists formulate and test their explanations of nature using observation, experiments, and theoretical and mathematical models. Although all scientific ideas are tentative and subject to change and improvement in principle, for most major ideas in science, there is much experimental and observational confirmation. Those ideas are not likely to change greatly in the future. Scientists do and have changed their ideas about nature when they encounter new experimental evidence that does not match their existing explanations.

Content Standard G History and Nature of Science
: History of Science

• Many individuals have contributed to the traditions of science. Studying some of these individuals provides further understanding of scientific inquiry, science as a human endeavor, the nature of science, and the relationships between science and society.
• In historical perspective, science has been practiced by different individuals in different cultures. In looking at the history of many peoples, one finds that scientists and engineers of high achievement are considered to be among the most valued contributors to their culture.
• Tracing the history of science can show how difficult it was for scientific innovators to break through the accepted ideas of their time to reach the conclusions that we currently take for granted.