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Nuclear Fusion

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    Astronomical Society of the Pacific

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Nuclear Fusion

This simple and engaging astronomy activity explains nuclear fusion and how radiation is generated by stars, using marshmallows as a model. Learners will explore what cosmic radiation is and where it comes from, and how the elements in the universe are generated. The PDF contains step-by-step instructions, photos, presentation tips, links to background information, and a printable Periodic Table of the Elements.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - adult

Resource Types:
Activity, Simulation


Materials List (per group of students)

  • marshmallows (or small balls of playdough)
  • uncooked salad pasta
  • bowls for marshmallows and hard pasta
  • Periodic Table of the Elements (from PDF)
  • (Optional) copies of Electromagnetic Spectrum for advanced audiences (link in PDF)
  • (Optional) napkins for marshmallows


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Astronomy
      • Origins of Universe
      • Stars and Galaxies
    • Solar System
      • Origin of Solar System
  • Physical Sciences
    • Heat and Thermodynamics
      • Heat and Temperature
    • Energy
      • Energy and Power
    • Chemistry
      • Nuclear Chemistry
    • Light and Optics
      • Electromagnetic Spectrum
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Atomic Structure
      • Elements and Periodic Table
      • Elementary Particles and Nuclear Physics

Informal Categories

  • Food and Cooking


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All Rights Reserved, Astronomical Society of the Pacific, ©2008


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