Cosmic Times

Universe Mash-Ups Lesson Plan

Universe Mash-up lesson plan cover image
Curriculum support materials by:
Geri Cvetic, NBCT
Chesapeake High School
Pasadena, MD
Dr. Barbara Mattson
Greenbelt, MD
These materials were created under NASA's Education and Public Outreach program for the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC), with added support from the NASA Grant/ Cooperative Agreement NNX09AN22G. Special thanks to Francis Reddy for his input.


Sample mash-up using American Gothic and pictures of pets

Sample mash-up using Grant Wood's American Gothic painting and photos of pets.

Ever see the President and First Lady's faces inserted into American Gothic, the painting by Grant Wood? Or maybe a video collage of Homer Simpson's many renditions of the word "d'oh"? These are examples of "mash-ups" – pieces (image, audio or video) created by combining two or more sources of media into a new derivative work.

Using the Cosmic Times Universe Mash-up Project, students will creatively connect with the science, history, and personalities behind our understanding of the expanding Universe. This project weaves together the artistic aspects of creating visual media with rigorous research and script-writing, giving students a better understanding of their topic while having a little fun.

General Lesson Information

The purpose of this lesson is to engage students in the big questions of our Universe through a media mash-up project-based lesson related to the Cosmic Times educational resources. The advantages of the lesson include engaging students, inspiring creativity, using media mash-up technology; acquiring knowledge through differentiated instruction; and presenting their knowledge, ideas and individual perspectives.

Estimated Class Time

3-7 class periods with home assignment component, as needed


  1. Students will gain a general understanding of how our understanding of the Universe has changed over time through new discoveries made possible by the development of knowledge and technologies.
  2. Students will select a specific topic of interest to them that is related to the Cosmic Times materials and show evidence of their understanding of that topic through their completed projects.
  3. Students will create a video from various media that reflects their research and ideas.
  4. Students will share their projects with classmates.

National Education Standards

  • Science Standards
    • NS.9-12.1 Science as Inquiry
    • NS.9-12.4 Earth and Space Science
    • NS.9-12.5 Science and Technology
    • NS.9-12.7 History and Nature of Science
  • Social Studies (History)
    • NSS-WH.5-12 ERA 8: A Half-Century of Crisis and Achievement, 1900-145
    • NSS-WH.5-12 ERA 9: The 20th Century Since 1945: Promises and Paradoxes
  • Technology Standards
    • NT.K-12.1 Basic Operations and Concepts
    • NT.K-12.2 Social, Ethical and Human Issues
    • NT.K-12.3 Technology Productivity Tools
    • NT.K-12.4 Technology Communication Tools
    • NT.K-12.5 Technology Research Tools
  • Language Arts Standards
    • NL-ENG.K-12.1 Reading for Perspective
    • NL-ENG.K-12.3 Evaluation Strategies
    • NL-ENG.K-12.4 Communication Skills
    • NL-ENG.K-12.5 Communication Strategies
    • NL-ENG.K-12.7 Evaluating Data
    • NL-ENG.K-12.8 Developing Research Skills

Also meets the International Society for Technology in Education's National Educational Technology Standards for Students 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 2d, 3a, 3b, 3c, 3d, 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d, 5b.


  1. Engagement Students interact with the main concepts of the Cosmic Times materials in order to select a research topic.
  2. Exploration Students do the pre-production work for their video projects. They use the Cosmic Times resources and the NASA library of videos, images, and sound clips to research their topics and select media. They may also use online databases and selected web sites. Students use their research to write a treatment script, create a storyboard, and a final script.
  3. Explanation Students do the production and post-production of their video projects. Production may entail taking photos, creating voice-overs, and producing short clips of their own to use in their mash-up; though the main focus of this project is to use the provided existing media content. Finally, students stitch together their media to create their final video.
  4. Evaluation Students fill out a self-evaluation of their project and receive teacher feedback.
  5. Extension Students share their mash-ups with the class and provide feedback to classmates on their projects.

↑ Universe Mash-up Lesson Home | Background on Video Production →

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