Big Bang theory interactive timeline

Big Bang theory interactive timeline
Publication Date: February, 2014
Type of Resource: Interactive/Simulation

This online resource is a great Flash* timeline which takes students through the concepts of the big bang theory and the science of the changes that occurred during the origin of the Universe.


It is a good activity to do at the beginning of a unit of work on cosmology as it sets a context for all of the other learning that follows, as well as opens up lines of inquiry.


Information about the source:


The Association for Science Education, is the UK’s largest subject teaching association. The Schoolscience.co.uk website is sponsored by industrial and research partners who provide free online science resources for teachers and students. This site is free for all users and aims to provide a comprehensive directory of resources, information and contacts for teachers and learners of science in schools everywhere.


A central point of reference for all primary and secondary school science teachers and technicians, it offers a unique opportunity for practitioners to enhance their knowledge and experience of science and science education and for specialist organisations to raise their profile. 


* Please note that because this interactive is built in Flash, it will not work on an iPad.

Additional Information

Teacher/lesson support:


In this activity, students are to create a summary table to note observations such as temperature change and activity occurring at each stage from “Before Big Bang” right through to “Present Day”. Students may need to have some support in understanding scientific notation and the relationship between Kelvin and Celsius.


Have students work in groups to translate their individual notes from what they read into a simple timeline with dates and notes on the significant events. Try to get students to apply an appropriate scale (to capture 15 Billion years of activity; e.g. 1 cm = 500,000 years), to their timeline to assist with understanding. You will need to have a number of large pieces of butcher's paper stuck together to create this timeline, and students might also like to add artwork to help tell the story. Once complete, the timeline can be used to investigate the following:


  • The time it has taken to create the Universe and our Earth/Solar System as we know it.
  • Why there are only very general dates for earlier events.
  • Where the student's life fits in the scheme of things.
  • Discuss observations around the Earth's creation and human impact during modern history to sustainability and related global issues such as global warming.
  • Also look at other factors which have changed over time such as temperature and consider what this may tell about the activity in space. Hint: relate energy/temperature to activity occurring.

Students may also like to ask questions. Some may include:


  • What makes up most of the Universe?
  • Why is the Universe ‘flat’ and not ‘spherical’?
  • Where did the matter in the Universe come from?
  • What is the evidence to support the Big Bang Theory?

Don’t worry if you as the teacher can’t answer these… just note them down, stick them on the timeline and they may then form the foundation of self-directed research activities.


Students may like to include additional comments and observations as post-it notes along the timeline to add interest and spark curiosity in other students. The finished work may be something that is nice to display down the corridor of the science wing at school.


Other activities:


Literacy—students may also like to generate a glossary of key terms which are defined through this interactive such as Galaxy, Star, Solar System, supernova, etc. Students can then build their glossary as they work through this topic.


Allow at least 2 hours for this activity if group work is factored in i.e., 2 hours = Part 1, 45 mins; Part 2, 1 hour 15 mins.


Australian Curriculum:


Science Understanding


Earth and Space Sciences


The universe contains features including galaxies, stars and solar systems and the Big Bang Theory can be used to explain the origin of the universe (ACSSU188)

Australian Curriculum:
  • Year 10 > Science Understanding > Earth and Space Sciences > The universe contains features including galaxies, stars and solar systems and... > ACSSU188