Teaching sequence

Lesson objective

In this lesson students explore the technologies used by scientists to gather and interpret information about the universe and the celestial bodies it contains.


Brainstorm the ways in which scientists observe space.

Explain that scientists have instruments and tools they use to gather data about the universe.


  1. View the introduction video in the Video tour of the electromagnetic spectrum
  2. Review students’ understanding of the electromagnetic spectrum.
  3. Place students into groups and have them log onto and watch the Video tour of the electromagnetic spectrum.
    Within their groups ask each student to choose a different region of the electromagnetic spectrum (as seen in the video) and record:
    • the name of the region
    • information about space that can be gathered using that region
    •  the instruments that are used in the study of that region. Ensure that all regions have been covered.
  4. Discuss what the students have recorded and explain that scientists combine data from multiple sources to obtain information about celestial objects.
  5. Explain to the students that Australia has been a leader in radio astronomy and is involved in an international project called the Square Kilometre Array.
  6. Have students conduct Activity 3, ASKAP: why do we need another radio telescope? (Window to the universe: The Square Kilometre Array p 102) 
  7. View the slide show Giant telescopes of tomorrow  looking at new telescopes under development.


Explain to students that scientists are also searching the universe for Earth-like planets.

View the video Seeing stars

Discuss the possible outcomes of finding Earth-like planets.

Lesson Resources


Student activities

Digital resources

Video tour of the electromagnetic spectrum,
NASA Science Cast, YouTube (5:03 min) 

Activity 3, ASKAP: why do we need another radio telescope?
Window to the universe, The Square Kilometre Array p 102, ska.edu.au (PDF) The original source for this resource no longer exists, this copy provided by the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine.

Giant telescopes of tomorrow,
NOVA, Public Broadcasting Service 

Seeing stars,
Teachers’ Domain (4:50 min) 

Extension activities

Viewing the universe: then, now and the future (Word, 330 KB)

Useful links

How Hubble sees,
NOVA, Public Broadcasting Service. Slideshow 

Kepler: a search for habitable planets,
Ames Research Centre, NASA. Information on the Kepler mission 

Moving targets,
NOVA, Public Broadcasting Service. Explaining the Doppler Effect 

Satellites and data,
Goddard Space Flight Centre, NASA’s Imagine the universe. Information 

Tour of the electromagnetic spectrum,
Mission Science, NASA. Booklet