Activity Introduction

Quick summary: This lesson puts students in the role of critical thinking cosmologists, conducting a simple experiment to test the discoveries of James Hubble and the theories of other scientists about Redshift, the Big Bang, and the origins of the universe. 

Subjects: Science, English, HASS

Year Level: Primary

Topics: The Big Bang, History

Teaching Time: 60 mins.

Unit: This is Lesson 4 of the Big History – Primary unit.

For more information on how to teach this unit and develop a transdisciplinary approach to your teaching, check out our Big History PD.

This Big History Program for primary school students is based on the Big History Project as adapted by Marilyn Ahearn and Marisa Colonna. Click here to view these lessons in their far more expansive original format.

Resources Required:

You may decide on different entrances to this story in your classroom. That is perfectly reasonable – as long as we tell the whole emerging story of our universe, as we know it! Think of the story as a chapter book where children need to hear the whole story to make sense of it – if we hear fragments from various chapters we are left with fragments once more!

Therefore, we strongly recommend you teach this unit as a whole from start to finish. You can find all of the Presentation Slides, Teacher Worksheets, Student Worksheets, and other required resources for download in this folder.

Alternatively, the resources for this lesson as a standalone are:

21st-Century Skills:

CommunicatingCreative ThinkingCritical ThinkingDigital LiteracyGlobal Citizenship  

Level of teacher scaffolding: High – Facilitate explicit teaching and guide students through independent work. 

Australian Curriculum Mapping

“It is one of the many odd features of modern society, that despite having access to more information than any earlier society, those in modern educational systems … teach about (our) origins in disconnected fragments. We seem incapable of offering a unified account of how things came to be, the way they are.” – David Christian, 2011, Maps of time: an introduction to big history

We encourage you to teach Big History both through and in-between disciplines (transdisciplinary)

The story of our universe needs the expertise of academic disciplines to be made sense of and explained in full. The best evidence from a wide range of disciplines presents the current best answers to our big questions.

As primary educators, this provides us in turn with the opportunity to engage with this story from a particular perspective that your grade and/or school currently requires. This means that it is not seen as an add-on/extracurricular activity that our overloaded timetables cannot cope with. English, Science, & Creative Arts syllabuses easily incorporate Big History, alongside the skills and concepts from History and Geography. Maths, too, can be incorporated in the discovery of large numbers and measuring the large scales of time and space!

Syllabus outcomes: EN2-1A , EN2-4A, EN2-6B, EN2-7B, EN2-8B, EN2-10C, EN2-11D, ST2-9PW-ST, HT2-5, VAS2-1, VAS2.4

General capabilities: Literacy, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Capability, Critical and Creative Thinking.

Cross-curriculum priority: Sustainability.

Big History embraces a curriculum that emphasises nature, economics, society and our own wellbeing to empower children to see our world view from the context of a unified universe story, not merely from within our local cultural worldview! 

Learning our emerging and unified 13.82 billion years of Big History helps us to understand the changing nature and fragility of our complex environment. We can use that knowledge of the past, present and future to investigate future possibilities for sustainable ways to meet our own needs and the needs of future generations.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.


Teacher Worksheet

Lesson 4: Evidence for the Big Bang

Learning intentions: Students will...

  • … understand the beginnings of the universe.

Success criteria: Students can…

  • … explain how the universe started from a single point and is expanding
  • … test the validity of the theories of Redshift and the Big Bang.

Teacher Content Information:

The Big Bang. Big History will introduce you to many new ideas and claims. But students won't simply accept these claims as facts and move on. They'll be encouraged to test them. They'll learn how to evaluate information presented to them, and be encouraged to decide for themselves what to believe and what to investigate further.

This is how our thinking advances, as a society. Today's scientific view of the history of the universe is based on the work of thousands of scientists and scholars over thousands of years. People built upon each other's work. New technology and new observations have led to ever sharper theories about the universe and its begin

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Student Worksheet

Student Worksheet - Lesson 4

Thought-starter: Where is the evidence for the Big Bang?

Step 1. Make one person in the group responsible for inflating the balloon. The other student(s) will be responsible for measuring and recording data. This is important because one student will have to have their fingers on the balloon the entire experiment!

Step 2. Inflate your balloon until it is about 10cm in diameter (a couple of big breaths.) Diameter is the distance from one side to the other. Do not tie the end, just hold it closed. 

Step 3. Using the felt-tip marker, make four random dots on the balloon in widely scattered locations. Label one dot "Earth" and the others are stars A, B and C.

Step 4. Add three squiggly lines on your balloon to represent light waves. Make sure the light waves are close together to begin with. 

Step 5. Without letting air out of the balloon, use the string to measure the distance from the 'Earth' dot to each 'star' dot. Then use your ruler to measure the

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