Making a Time Map for the Universe
Hands On Assignment Lesson 1

In this course we will be dealing with time spans that are beyond our ability to imagine. However, we can try to understand the time intervals for events. We will make a simple time model of the events that have occurred in our universe so far.

 Materials:  Each group will receive 15 index cards and some scotch tape.
 Activity: The universe is thought to be between 12 and 15 billion years old.
Each index card stands for one billion years.
Tape the index cards together to make a long row of cards.
The orange is where the tape should be. Number each card.

Now let's put in the significant events.
On the left hand edge of the first card, make a line and label it "The Big Bang".
This represents the beginning of the universe. All the matter in the universe suddenly appeared in less than a second!  Where we are today is on the right hand edge of card 15.

  • Galaxies began to form about 10 billion years ago.
    Mark this event on the correct card.
  • Our sun began burning as a main sequence star 4.5 billion years ago.
     Find the right card and label it. Think carefully here!
  • The earth is also about 4.5 billion years old.
    Label the card that shows when the earth was formed.

Now let's put in some information about the evolution of life on earth.

Put in the dates of the first appearance of life.
                          the first multicellular animals.
                          the first fishes.
                          the dinosaurs.
                          the first mammals.
Where do humans fit in this picture?

You can find charts that will help you at Evolution of Life

© 1998. Elizabeth Anne Viau. All rights reserved. This material may be used by individuals for instructional purposes but not sold. Please inform the author if you use it at