Physics KS3 / GCSE: Nuclear fusion in stars

Jon Chase explains the nuclear fusion that causes stars like our sun to give out enormous heat.

Film footage of a nuclear explosion in a hydrogen bomb is used to draw an analogy with the sun’s energy.

He mixes iron oxide and alumium powder to demonstrate a highly exothermic chemical reaction and relates this to the much greater energy output of the sun.

This short film is from the BBC series, Space Science Bites.

Teacher Notes

Students could produce a poster on nuclear fusion in stars and compare with nuclear fission.

This could also lead to an introduction to practical activity or demonstration of the Sun’s energy using a solar panel to produce electricity or to heat water.

Students could undertake calculations using temperature and energy figures.

Observe changes in colour of metal as its temperature is increased from dull red to white.

Curriculum Notes

This short film will be relevant for teaching physics.

This topic appears in OCR, Edexcel, AQA, WJEC KS4/GCSE in England and Wales, CCEA GCSE in Northern Ireland and SQA National 4/5 in Scotland.

More from Space Science Bites:

Gravity on Earth and in space
The life cycle of stars
The Big Bang and red shift
Spectroscopy and the composition of stars
Waves and communication