Star Finders: Lesson Plan

Find out how High Point University students helped discover a rare pulsar star system.

UNC-TV Media

Alignment to NC Essential Standards

  • EEn.1.1.3 — Explain how the sun produces energy which is transferred to the Earth by radiation. 

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the lesson, students will identify the forms of energy produced by the sun, compare fusion and fission, and summarize how energy flows from the sun through space.

Essential Vocabulary

  • Electromagnetic spectrum
  • Ultra violet
  • Gamma rays
  • X-ray
  • Infrared waves
  • Neutron
  • Proton
  • Electron
  • Pulsating star
  • Pulsars
  • Fusion


Students will view the PBS Nova interactive Electromagnetic Spectrum Tour. 

Discussion Questions:

  1. List each portion of the electromagnetic spectrum.
  2. What are protons, and what is their relationship to the electromagnetic spectrum?
  3. How are manmade radio waves produced?
  4. What electronic device facilitated the use of microwave radiation?
  5. How are infrared waves produced?
  6. Where does ultraviolet light originate?
  7. What are X-rays, and why are they called that? 
  8. How are gamma rays created in the universe, and how do they originate on Earth?


Students will work independently to research how the sun produces energy, which is then transferred to the Earth by radiation. 

The websites below are some possible places that students can find information.

  1. How Does the Sun Produce Energy? —
  2. How Does the Sun Produce Energy? —
  3. Energy Flows through the Sun's Layers —
  4. How does the Sun Generate Energy? —


After gathering information about the sun’s energy, students will work in small groups to brainstorm the following assignment. If needed, students can review the websites above or other websites to clarify concepts that they do not understand.

The sun contains six zones. What occurs in each of these zones, and how does the Earth respond to the energy that is emitted from the sun?


Students will view the NC Science Now video Star Finders to learn about neutron stars. 

Discussion Questions: 

  1. How do neutron stars form?
  2. How do scientists determine if they have located a pulsating star? 
  3. What is a double-neutron star system?


Students will put together a presentation that maps out the path of energy; from its generation to the ways in which it is filtered and used by the Earth.