Stars and Stellar Evolution

Stars and Stellar Evolution

This demo was developed by graduate student Betsy Mills

This activity has several parts to it:

HR Diagram: Students are given paper circles (size corresponds to the relative size of the star) with the temperature and luminosity of a real star written on the back. They are asked to velcro the star to a large felt board with two axes drawn on it. The exercise helps students to learn about plotting data, as well as the HR diagram that astronomers use to classify stellar types. The presenter should point out the Main Sequence, and talk about the how stellar temperatures, luminosities, and colors change as stars age.

 

The Composition of Life: We hand out small plastic containers filled with different colored beads. The beads represent different elements (hydrogen, helium, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, calcium), and the containers represent different astronomical bodies/phenomena. We use containers representing the Big Bang, a white dwarf, a planetary nebula, and a human being. It shows students that the hydrogen in our bodies came from the big bang, and that the calcium in our bones was forged in the center of a star (which eventually became a white dwarf).