Pair your students up to complete this engaging H-R Diagram star-charting activity.
I start this lesson with a textbook or online video about H-R diagrams. Then I pass out the two-sided activity sheet to all students and ask a student to read the directions out loud.
Then, using an overhead projector or SmartBoard, I project the blank H-R Diagram on the front board. To help students, I first write in additional temperature points across the bottom axis (see my included Answer Key for these additional temperatures). Then I demonstrate how to use a ruler and the temperature and Luminosity (or Absolute Magnitude) axises to plot the first numbered star, our Sun. Then finally, I have students start plotting on their own.
As students begin plotting, I walk the room and check for understanding. If several are struggling, I ask a student to help me plot the second numbered star, Procyon A, on the front board.
For my 8th graders, this lesson typically took two 45-minute class periods. When everyone had finished plotting , I'd ask for volunteers to take turns plotting stars 2-5 on the front board/SmartBoard. (This gives other students an opportunity to point out mistakes or make corrections to their own H-R Diagrams).
Then, to simplify grading, I would have each student pair swap papers with another student pair and and would project the Answer Key on my overhead/SmartBoard.
Finally, I would lead a closing discussion about the activity and asks students to give me a thumbs up, thumbs down or wagging in-between thumb to tell me how well they understood H-R Diagrams. I also asked students about the life-cycle of stars and asked where I could find the "young, middle-aged and old stars" on the H-R Diagram. I'd ask a student volunteer to draw a big circle around the Main Sequence stars (where middle-aged stars are located). I'd ask them to point out a "young star" and and old star." Most important, I would ask them, "Do H-R Diagrams show where stars are in the sky?" I'd eventually get the class chanting "NO, NO, NO!" after repeating the question several times. "An H-R Diagram is NOT a map, it's a data chart showing the comparative temperature and brightness of stars!"