Outline of unit

Ancient stories from many cultures describe the universe as being created, while other cultures speak of a universe that has always existed. For hundreds of years scientists have studied the universe. Many theories have been developed and modified or discarded, however, the prevailing theory about the origin and evolution of our Universe is called the Big Bang theory. This theory is continually being revised as scientists, using more advanced technology, uncover more information and ask more questions about the very existence of time and space.

In this unit students review their current understanding of the solar system and our nearest neighbours in space. They are introduced to the Big Bang theory and learn about the evidence scientists used (and use) to support it and to discount other theories. Students consider the age and size of the universe and the unit of the light year that is used to describe vast distances. By exploring the life cycles of stars they learn that the universe is continually changing and begin to appreciate how stars, neutron stars and black holes are related. Students look at the different technologies that have enabled scientists to observe the universe and to gather data to explain events that are happening in the universe. Students simulate and model events to gain an understanding of the processes that drive the universe.

Australian Curriculum content descriptions

Science Understanding

Earth and space sciences

The universe contains features including galaxies, stars and solar systems and the Big Bang theory can be used to explain the origin the universe (ACSSU188

Science as a Human Endeavour

Nature and development of science

Scientific understanding, including models and theories, are contestable and are refined over time through a process of review by the scientific community (ACSHE191

Advances in scientific understanding often rely on developments in technology and technological advances are often linked to scientific discoveries (ACSHE192

Use and influence of science

People use scientific knowledge to evaluate whether they accept claims, explanations or predictions, and advances in science can affect people’s lives, including generating new career opportunities (ACSHE194)

Science Inquiry Skills

Processing and analysing data and information

Analyse patterns and trends in data, including describing relationships between variables and identifying inconsistencies (ACSIS203

Use knowledge of scientific concepts to draw conclusions that are consistent with evidence (ACSIS204


Critically analyse the validity of information in secondary sources and evaluate the approaches used to solve problems (ACSIS206


Communicate scientific ideas and information for a particular purpose, including constructing evidence-based arguments and using appropriate scientific language, conventions and representations (ACSIS208

Source: Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). 

Achievement standard

This lesson sequence provides opportunities to gather information about students’ achievement of specific components in the standards (which are bolded in the statements below).

By the end of Year 10, students analyse how the periodic table organises elements and use it to make predictions about the properties of elements. They explain how chemical reactions are used to produce particular products and how different factors influence the rate of reactions. They explain the concept of energy conservation and represent energy transfer and transformation within systems. They apply relationships between force, mass and acceleration to predict changes in the motion of objects. Students describe and analyse interactions and cycles within and between Earth’s spheres. They evaluate the evidence for scientific theories that explain the origin of the universe and the diversity of life on Earth. They explain the processes that underpin heredity and evolution. Students analyse how the models and theories they use have developed over time and discuss the factors that prompted their review.
Students develop questions and hypotheses and independently design and improve appropriate methods of investigation, including fieldwork and laboratory experimentation. They explain how they have considered reliability, safety, fairness and ethical actions in their methods and identify where digital technologies can be used to enhance the quality of data. When analysing data, selecting evidence and developing and justifying conclusions, they identify alternative explanations for findings and explain any sources of uncertainty. Students evaluate the validity and reliability of claims made in secondary sources with reference to currently held scientific views, the quality of the methodology and the evidence cited. They construct evidence-based arguments and select appropriate representations and text types to communicate science ideas for specific purposes.

Source: Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). 

Trifid nebula, David Malin, reproduced with permission of David Malin Images; Barred spiral galaxy, David Malin, reproduced with permission of David Malin Images.

Additional information for teachers


Background information (PDF, 385 KB)

Safety advice (Activities in this unit require basic safety procedures.)

Materials and equipment (No scientific materials or equipment are required for this unit.)


Developing programs in science for gifted and talented students 
(Australian Science Innovations)