A Universe Without Supernovae

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This fun and simple hands-on astronomy activity illustrates the value of supernovae in the universe. Learners discover that almost all chemical elements that make up the Earth and all its living things were made inside stars that exploded and went supernova. Without supernovae to disperse these elements, the universe as we know it couldn’t exist. The PDF contains step-by-step instructions, photos, presentation tips, background information, and ready-to-print handouts and activity cards. This activity goes well with The Lives of Stars activity and a nuclear fusion demonstration using marshmallows (link in PDF).

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

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

Age Range:
Ages 8 - adult

Resource Types:
Activity, Game


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Scissors to cut apart cards
  • Element Cards/2-sided, in color (in PDF)
  • Object Cards (in PDF)
  • "A Universe Without Supernovae" handouts
  • Table of Elements (optional, in PDF)
  • Trash can (optional)
  • Everyday objects as examples for Object Cards (optional)
  • Make up you own objects (optional)


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Astronomy
      • Stars and Galaxies
    • Earth's History
    • Solar System
      • Origin of Solar System
  • Life Sciences
    • Evolution
      • History of Life
  • Physical Sciences
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Atomic Structure
      • Elements and Periodic Table
      • Elementary Particles and Nuclear Physics

Informal Categories

  • Games


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • read
  • be mobile
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access