Sky Tellers, the Magic, and the Mysteries of the Universe

Activity: Star Scramble


Through a game of matching and sequencing, participants learn about the life cycle of low and high mass stars. This activity is for older children ages 12 and up.

What’s the Point

  • Stars form and change over time.
  • Low-mass stars have different stages from high-mass stars.


For each group of 3 to 5 children: a set of Star Stage and Stage Descriptions cards

For the Facilitator:


  • Copy the Star Stage and Stage Descriptions cards on card stock or paper for each group and cut out the cards.
  • Review the complete background information.


1. Invite participants to share what they know about the different sizes and colors of stars.

Participants may share information about colors, such as blue, red, yellow, and white. They may be aware that different colors can tell us more about the temperature of a star’s atmosphere: blue stars have the hottest atmospheres, and red stars have the coolest atmospheres

Participants may also share information about sizes; supergiants are the largest. Stars change is size and density during their life cycles, and a star’s stages depends on its initial mass.

Participants should have a basic understanding of star life cycles in order to play this game, or they will need help from the facilitator.

2. Divide players into groups of three to five, and explain the game:

Each group’s mission is to be the first group to successfully match all their Star Stage and Stage Description cards and line them up in correct chronological order, from star birth to star death (after the protostar stage, the order line will diverge into two lines—one for small-mass stars, and one for medium- to large-mass stars.)

3. Distribute one set of Star Scramble cards to each group. Place the Star Stage cards in random order, face down in a stack and the Stage Description cards face down, scattered in front of the players.

Invite the teams to start playing. Each player takes turns selecting a Star Stage card and a card from the Stage Description cards to read aloud.

  • If the Star Stage and Stage Description are a match, the player calls out “star match.” If the others agree, the card and its match are set aside and the player waits his or her turn to draw another Star Stage card.
  • If the Star Stage and the Stage Description do not match, the Stage Description card is returned to its original position, face down, and the player waits of his or her turn to try again.
  • Players should continue until all matches are made. If a match is found later to be incorrect, both cards are returned to the game. Players can discuss the descriptions and help each other verify matches, but they should not help each other find cards.

The facilitator should circulate and assist in clarifying terms if needed.

4. The first group to find all the card matches and order them correctly, wins.

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