Lesson Plan: Fusion in Stars Physics
This lesson plan includes the objectives, prerequisites and exclusions of the lesson teaching students how to describe the process of nuclear fusion in stars and supernovae and the elements that are produced.
Students will be able to
- recall that hydrogen is the main “fuel” used in fusion,
- recall that hydrogen is the most common element in the universe,
- recall that after a while, stars will start to fuse helium and then lithium,
- understand the balanced forces within a star,
- understand that fusion only happens in the core of a star, where the pressure and temperature are great enough,
- understand that fusion in main sequence stars does not produce any element heavier than iron, because to do so would not release energy, but would absorb it,
- understand that heavier elements are only produced in supernovae.
Students should already be familiar with
- the life cycle of typical main sequence stars,
- nuclear fusion,
- the action of gravity on massive objects.
Students will not cover
- shell burning: that shells of matter further into the star will fuse progressively higher and higher atomic number elements,
- specific fusion chain reactions like the proton–proton chain reaction or the CNO cycle.