Cosmic Times

Universe Mash-Ups Lesson Plan
Exploration: Pre-production

During the exploration, students will complete the pre-production of their Universe Mash-up projects. They will research a topic, select media (still images, video and audio clips), write a treatment script, create a storyboard, and develop a final script.

Handouts used in the Exploration

Classroom Instruction

Once your students have chosen a topic for their mash-up project, they will enter the pre-production phase of their project. The following instructional steps will walk your students through the pre-production phase of their Universe Mash-up projects.

Although students will want to rush into producing their projects, make sure they spend ample time on research, answering their big questions, taking notes and recording their citations.

  1. Review

    Begin by having students review their topics and their essential questions generated from the "W" (What I Wonder?) section of their charts. From this, they should have already picked a topic for their Universe Mash-up project.

  2. Project background and grading

    Hand out the Universe Mash-up Project Overview and Planning and the Universe Mash-up Grading Rubric to students. Use this opportunity to give students the big picture overview of the Universe Mash-up project. The Overview worksheet includes a checklist with due-dates, so you may want to use this time to also layout your expectations for these.

  3. Sample Mash-up

    Tell students that they will now begin pre-production of their projects. Hand out the Treatment Script worksheet. Then have them watch the sample video mash-up, From the Inside Out, using the worksheet to guide students' understanding of the video. As students view the sample mash-up video, stop periodically to give students the opportunity to fill out the worksheet.

    The video is available from the following links:

    After viewing the film, discuss the sample video and relate the discussion back to production process using their worksheets.

  4. Clipart image of a pen and paper
  5. Treatment script

    Using their worksheets as a starting point, students should begin research on their topic, filling in the second part of the Treatment Script worksheet to help formulate a plan for their projects.

    Introduce students to the resources in the Universe Mash-up media archive and lists of related links.

    Emphasize the importance of recording their sources for each part of their research. They need to know where the images and videos they plan to use are located so they can download them when the time comes for video production. They will also need to keep track of credits for the media that they use, so they give proper citations for the works they use. Make it clear to students that if media has a copyright, they will need to ask permission from the copyright owner to use it. Most of NASA's media is copyright free, but it will still require a credit.

  6. Storyboard

    Once students have their treatment scripts written, they should start to plan out the visual flow of their videos. Hand out the Storyboard worksheet, and have students fill it out, showing the main segments of their final project in the flow of the storyboard. Students may continue research during this phase to ensure they have the visuals they need to tell the story they want to tell.

  7. Final script

    Students next take their storyboard and turn it into a final script. This should include the text for any voice-overs they'd like to include (or text they will put on the screen in place of voice-overs).

Additional tips for the Exploration (Pre-production)

  • Finding resources
    • Students should use mainly the Cosmic Times and NASA resources.
    • The Hotlists will help students to navigate the Cosmic Times resources.
    • The Keyword Cloud is especially helpful to students in locating information on their topics. Clicking on a word in the Keyword Cloud takes you to all of the related resources on that topic. Students will find images, videos and audio clips in the Cosmic Times Media Archive.

    • Instruction
      • Using the rubric, begin with the end in mind. Set up expectations for the student's projects early on, so they know exactly how they will be graded.
      • Encourage students to clearly understand their topic so they are able to find their voice and tell their piece of the Universe story creatively.
      • Work with students using the planning sheets so they follow each step.
      • Encourage students to start off with a strong beginning by opening with an interesting title and to personalize credits.
      • It may be nice to help students understand a few media production techniques, for example: a wide or long shot (establishment shot) medium shot (interactions) and a close up (shows emotions).
      • Students may use transitions, sound effects etc. to help tell the story.
      • If you are using the Extension of this lesson and sharing the videos, students should return their permission slips for publishing their projects before moving on to the Explanation and production.
      • If your students need additional help, they might find the Universe Mash-up Hints and How-to (PDF download) handout helpful; it was written by Faith Tucker who made the From the Inside Out example Universe Mash-up.

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A service of the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC), Dr. Alan Smale (Director), within the Astrophysics Science Division (ASD) at NASA/GSFC