Lesson Plan Template: Learning Cycle (5E Model)
Learning Objectives: What will students know and be able to do as a result of this lesson?
Students will define dark energy and dark matter.
Students will cite evidence to support the existence of dark matter and dark energy in our universe.
Students will compare and contrast the observational effects of gravitational force and Dark Energy.
Prior Knowledge: What prior knowledge should students have for this lesson?
This unit should be completed after students have discussed Gravitational Force. This lesson would, for instance, form a useful bridge between a unit on Newton's Law of Universal Gravitation and a unit on Kepler's Laws of Planetary Motion.
Guiding Questions: What are the guiding questions for this lesson?
What evidence exists to support the existence of dark energy?
How are the effects of gravity and dark energy different?
What evidence exists to support the existence of dark matter?
How have Dark Energy and gravitational force affected the distribution of matter in the Universe?
Engage: What object, event, or questions will the teacher use to trigger the students' curiosity and engage them in the concepts?
Show the video "Dark Energy" from the Minute Physics series:
After watching the video, lead students through a brief discussion of the following:
- Why did scientists believe that the expansion of the Universe should be slowing down?
- What did scientists observe to lead them to believe that "Dark Energy" should exist?
- How do you think the forces of "Dark Energy" and "Gravity" are different?
Allow students to discuss the answer as a class, guiding the discussion loosely, but allowing students to defend their own ideas and points. This entire section should take no more than five minutes.
Note: There is an advertisement before the video starts, so it is suggested that the teacher has the video queued up before showing it to the class or that the teacher downloads the video.
Explore: What will the students do to explore the concepts and skills being developed through the lesson?
Introductory Activity to Dark Energy as it relates the expansion of the Universe.
Students simulate a Universe by drawing galaxies on a balloon. They then simulate the expansion of the Universe by inflating the balloon. Follow-up questions guide students through simulating different rates of expansion and the idea that there is no center-point to the expansion, but rather that every galaxy is moving away from every other galaxy.
This activity can be completed individually or with a partner. Time permitting, the mini "Universes" can be decorated and displayed in the classroom.
It is recommended that students complete the follow-up questions as a "Think-Pair-Share" activity: students answer the questions individually, then discuss their ideas with a partner, then discuss the concepts as a class.
Explain: What will the students and teacher do so students have opportunities to clarify their ideas, reach a conclusion or generalization, and communicate what they know to others?
Dark Energy Articles - Answer Key to Follow-up Questions
Before this activity, students should be assigned into four equally sized groups based on reading ability, such that the strongest readers are in one group, the weakest readers are in another, and so on. The weakest readers should be placed in Group A, the strongest readers in Group D. For instance, if your school used FAIR data, then the class could be sorted by Lexile reading score and then divided up evenly. If no such numerical data is available, the teacher may sort the students based on observed reading skill level.
Once students are assigned into their four groups, the students will read their assigned article for that group. Each article has questions to accompany it, which the students should answer to reinforce understanding of the concepts covered in the article.
After all students are finished reading and answering the questions with their articles, the letter groups should meet together in order to discuss the answers to their questions.
At the end of the reading period, students should discuss the questions with their assigned letter groups. This would be the time for students to help each other understand their assigned articles and to clear up any misconceptions peer-to-peer. During this time, the teacher circulates among the groups to provide feedback and monitor for understanding.
It should be made clear to the students before leaving these groups that the students will be responsible to teach the content they learn from their article to other students.
It is recommended that the articles are printed with the follow-up questions attached, as many students benefit from underlining, highlighting, and making notes as they read. Students could also be provided with links to the article (or the above documents with the link and the questions) and read the article electronically.
Elaborate: What will the students do to apply their conceptual understanding and skills to solve a problem, make a decision, perform a task, or make sense of new knowledge?
Jigsaw activity: Round Robin - Discussion, Notes, Picture Notes
For this portion of the lesson, students will be redistributed into groups of four so that each group has one member from Group A, B, C, and D.
It is helpful to have these groups assigned ahead of time to avoid confusion. For instance, when assigning students articles to read you could give them the assignment B2. That would be that students are in Group B to read their articles and Group 2 to discuss their articles. They would then be paired with A2, C2, and D2 for this portion of the activity.
During the Jigsaw activity, the teacher should once again circulate through the groups to monitor for progress, understanding, and individual contributions. The teacher will give direct verbal feedback and support students when misinterpretations of the concepts arise.
Option 1: (Shortened - if there are extreme time constraints)
Have students write one paragraph each to explain what they have learned about each of the following:
- Gravitational Force
- Dark Energy
- Dark Matter
It is often helpful to put a time limit on section as well. For instance, depending on time constraints, you may wish to give the students two minutes to write as much as possible about each topic.
Students may remain seated with their groups during this activity so that they may refer to the pictures and notes they completed as a group. However, students should be writing individually and in silence.
This option should take approximately ten minutes.
Option 2: (Extended - recommended if time permits)
This may also be completed as an extended writing assignment using technology, for instance on Google Docs.
In this case, students are to write a three to five paragraph essay. The essay should address the following points:
- What evidence exists to support the existence of dark matter and dark energy in our universe? Cite specific information from the articles read in class.
- How has gravitational force affected the distribution of matter in our Universe?
- How has Dark Energy affected the distribution of matter in our Universe?
- Suppose that after some time has passed, the effect of gravitational force proves to be stronger than the effects of Dark Energy. Predict what would happen to the Universe given a long enough period of time.
This option should take approximately one class period (45 minutes).
The teacher will monitor for student progress and understanding informally during Jigsaw activity by observing student discussion and posing questions to students as needed.
Sample questions to pose to students during Jigsaw activity for formative assessment:
- What do you think scientists mean when they talk about "Dark Energy"?
- What do you think scientists mean when they talk about "Dark Matter"?
- What have scientists observed to lead them to think that Dark Energy exists?
- How is the effect of Dark Energy different from the effect of gravitational force?
Answers to sample formative assessment questions will vary depending on the article that the student read. However, generally, they should be answered as follows:
- A type of energy that pushes things apart; the opposite of gravitational force.
- A type of matter that does not interact with light, making it very difficult to observe.
- Far away galaxies are moving away from us at an increasing rate.
- Dark Energy and gravitational force have opposite effects - gravitational force attracts while Dark Energy repels.
Feedback to Students
Students will receive teacher feedback at the end of the Explain portion of the lesson, while they are discussing their assigned articles with peers. The teacher will circulate and give feedback as students discuss their articles.
Students will also receive verbal feedback from the teacher during the Jigsaw activity (in the Elaborate section) to guide progress. Students will receive peer feedback throughout the Jigsaw and discussion portions of the lesson.