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.”
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.
- 1.1 The Sun is really big and its gravity influences all objects in the solar system. (PS2, ESS1)
- 1.2 The Sun is active and can impact technology on Earth via space weather. (PS1, PS2, PS4, ESS2, ESS3)
- 1.3 The Sun’s energy drives Earth’s climate, but the climate is in a delicate balance and is changing due to human activity. (PS1, PS2, PS3, LS4, ESS2, ESS3)
- 2.1 Life on Earth has evolved with complex diversity because of our location near the Sun. It is just right! (PS3, PS4, LS1, LS2, ESS2)
- 2.2 The Sun defines the space around it, which is different from interstellar space. (PS2, ESS1, ESS2)
- 2.3 The Sun is the primary source of light in our solar system. (PS1, PS2, PS3,PS4, ESS1)
- 3.1 The Sun is made of churning plasma, causing the surface to be made of complex, tangled magnetic fields. (PS1, PS2, ESS1, ESS2)
- 3.2 Energy from the Sun is created in the core and travels outward through the Sun and into the heliosphere. (PS1, PS3, PS4, ESS1, ESS2, ESS3)
- 3.3 Our Sun, like all stars, has a life cycle. (PS1, LS1, ESS1)
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).