Star Life Cycle and Gamma Ray Sources

Contact Information:

  • Matt Laird. Email:
  • Heather Murphy. Email:


Stars are the powerhouses of our Universe. They vary greatly in age, size, appearance, and power throughout the Universe. Stars are both the cause of and seeming destruction of everything we know to exist. This lesson plan explains in detail the possible life cycles of stars, as well as a deeper focus on the amazing world of Gamma-Ray Astronomy and what is can tell us about the powerful engines of our Cosmos, the stars.

Lesson Content Overview:

  • Engage (5 min): A short video to engage students on the immense size of the universe as well as all it has to offer.
  • Explore (45 min): Students will take part in an active learning presentation will premade graphic organizers about the complete star life cycle. From birth to violent death the details of what a star can do will be shown to the students.
  • Explain (55 min): Students will dive deep into the fascinating world of Gamma-Ray Astronomy with an in-depth presentation of Gamma-Ray sources as seen by HAWC. This presentation will expand on the previous one, highlighting the most powerful and exciting places and events in the known universe!
  • Explore (55 min): Students get to test themselves and their classmates in a exciting game of Guess What! Based on the classic board game Guess Who, students will put their knowledge of objects in the universe to the test as they attempt to surmise what their opponent is with knowledge gathered during this lesson.

Connections to Prior Learning:

Supporting Material:

Star Evolution and Gamma Ray Sources – Lesson Plan

Star Life Cycle – Classroom Slides

Gamma Ray Sources – Classroom Slides

Resource – Life Cycle of a Star Graphic Organizer

Resource – Guess What Game Cards (Set 1)

Resource – Guess What Game Cards (Set 2)

Resource – Guess What Game Cards (Expansion)

About the Team:

Petra Huentemeyer, PhD (, Professor, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI


Henrike Fleischhack, PhD (, Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB), Germany


Xiaojie Wang, PhD (, Post-Doctorate, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI


Katelyn McCarthy (, Teacher, Kalamazoo Area Mathematics and Science Center, Kalamazoo, MI


Matt Laird (, Instructor, Gogebic Community College, Houghton, MI


Heather Murphy (, Teacher, Hancock High School, Hancock, MI


Tamala Sebring (, Teacher, Pittsfield High School, Pittsfield, MA

Interested in Joining?

The call for applications to participate in this RET will be posted in the fall.


Check back here or contact Petra Huentemeyer for more information.