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Standards Design and Support

Each investigation addresses specific science practices, crosscutting concepts and disciplinary core ideas. This three-dimensional design is also integrated into the phenomenon and assessments.

The table below offers suggestions for where Rubin Observatory investigations can be incorporated into learning sequences to build towards the three-dimensional performance expectations of the Next Generation Science Standards.

High School NGSS

DCI and Performance expectations

Coloring the Universe

Expanding Universe

Exploring the Observable Universe

Exploding Stars

Surveying the Solar System

Hazardous Asteroids

ESS 1.A: The Universe and its Stars

ESS 1-2

ESS 1-3

ESS 1-2

ESS 1-2

ESS 1-3

ESS 1.B: Earth and the Solar System

ESS 1-4

ESS 1-4

ESS 3.B: Natural Hazards

ESS 3-1

PS 1.C: Nuclear Processes

PS 1-8

PS 2.B: Types of Interactions

PS 2-4

PS 2-5

PS 2-4

PS 2-5

PS 2-4

PS 2-5

PS 3.A: Definitions of Energy

PS 3-2

PS 3-3


Rubin Observatory investigations are developed as lessons, not units. They are designed for you to drop into a storyline* you are developing. Suggested storylines for each investigation are located on the Phenomenon page.

*For those not familiar with the NGSS, a storyline refers to a lesson sequence developed to achieve a set of learning outcomes, that is driven by a question or problem to solve.



We have developed a phenomenon as an option to introduce each investigation. There are five components to each phenomenon:

  • a driving question

  • an image, a video, readings, animation or a simple experiment that is used as the engagement piece

  • an introduction and questions that can be used to direct student thinking and focus observations and discussion

  • suggested storylines* where this lesson and phenomenon may be appropriate

  • several follow-up prompts for use after the investigation concludes

Guiding Design Principles

We used these guiding principles to select each phenomenon and design the questions that accompany it:

  • The phenomenon should directly relate to the big ideas of the investigation.
  • The phenomenon should intellectually engage students. If it can already be explained by students before the investigation, it’s not an appropriate phenomenon.
  • The phenomenon should naturally lead into the generation of student questions and group discussion, in order to serve as the impetus for student-driven inquiry.
  • Each phenomenon has a driving question that is designed to be revisited several times during the course of the investigation.
  • The phenomenon may evoke the use of prerequisite knowledge, crosscutting concepts, and science practices.
  • The phenomenon may invite students to contribute perspectives from their cultural and life experiences.
  • The phenomenon should be able to function as both as the “launch” and the “landing.” It should lend itself to being revisited after the conclusion of the investigation as a summative assessment option.