Heliophysics Big Ideas

Building a Framework for Heliophysics Education

In this image of the Sun, the areas of greatest intensity appear almost white, while the darker red areas indicate less intensity.

NASA HEAT is building a Framework for Heliophysics Education to provide the background and scaffolding educators need to incorporate heliophysics topics into existing STEM curricula. Using the three main questions that heliophysicists investigate as the foundation, we cross-referenced heliophysics topics with the NGSS Disciplinary Core Ideas, to create NGSS-aligned “heliophysics big ideas.”

Best Practice! Using Guiding Questions to Drive Inquiry

Each big idea has student-friendly questions written at different levels that you can use to guide inquiry-based investigations at the appropriate level. Click on each big idea to learn more about how to use these questions to model scientific processes while engaging learners in exciting heliophysics content.

1. What are the impacts of the Sun on humanity?


2. How do the Earth, the solar system, and heliosphere respond to changes on the Sun?


3. What causes the Sun to vary?



The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) were created by the National Research Council's (NRC) framework for science proficiency. Science proficiency includes both a body of knowledge and using scientific processes to refine knowledge. Within the NGSS, there are three dimensions to learning which include the Disciplinary Core Ideas, Scientific and Engineering Practices, and Cross-Cutting Concepts. These dimensions are combined to form each standard—or performance expectation—with the dimensions to help students build a cohesive understanding of science over time. Forty-four states (representing 71% of US students) have education standards influenced by the Framework for K-12 Science Education and/or the Next Generation Science Standards (National Science Teachers Association, 2023).

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