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In this activity, students are reminded that the Universe is made up of elements and that the heavier elements are created inside of a star, as they learned in the "Elements and You" activity. They are introduced to the life cycle of a star and to the way in which a star's mass affects its process of fusion and eventual death. Students discuss the physical concept of equilibrium as a balancing of forces and observe an experiment to demonstrate what happens to a soda can when the interior and exterior forces are not in equilibrium. An analogy is made between this experiment and core collapse in stars, to show the importance of maintaining equilibrium in stars. Finally, students participate in an activity which demonstrates how mass is ejected from a collapsed star in a supernova explosion, thereby dispersing heavier elements throughout the Universe. This activity is part of a series that has been designed specifically for use with Girl Scouts, but the activities can be used in other settings. Most of the materials are inexpensive or easily found. It is recommended that a leader with astronomy knowledge lead the activities, or at least be available to answer questions, whenever possible.
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