The Search for Dark Matter

What is dark matter and why is it so hard to find? Learn about scientific phenomena supporting the dark matter theory, explore matter and its interactions, and join the global search for dark matter.

Curriculum module tags

Grade level

Time required

A minimum of eleven 55-minute sessions

Curriculum module media

LUX-Zeppelin Dark Matter Detector

The LUX-Zeppelin Dark Matter Detector under construction at SURF. Photo by Nick Hubbard

Many scientists are convinced that the vast majority of the matter in the universe is invisible; perhaps containing five times more dark matter than ordinary matter. However, because dark matter does not reveal its presence by emitting any type of electromagnetic radiation, visible proof of its existence is elusive. 


By following the dark mater evidence chronologically, students will explore matter and its interactions. They will also learn about the scientists and technologies that made new discoveries possible. Finally students are introduced to the search for dark matter taking place at the Sanford Underground Research Facility.


The Search For Dark Matter

Curriculum Standards

  • MS-ESS1-2

    Develop and use a model to describe the role of gravity in the motions within galaxies and the solar system.

  • MS-ESS1-3

    Analyze and interpret data to determine scale properties of objects.

  • MS-PS1-1

    Develop models to describe the atomic composition of simple molecules and extended structures.

  • MS-PS1-4

    Develop a model that predicts and describes changes in particle motion, temperature, and state of a pure substance when thermal energy is added or removed.

  • MS-PS2-2

    Plan an investigation to provide evidence that the change in an object’s motion depends on the sum of the forces on the object and the mass of the object.

  • MS-PS2-4

    Construct and present arguments using evidence to support the claim that gravitational interactions are attractive and depend on the masses of interacting objects.

  • MS-PS3-4

    Engage in argument from evidence to support the claim that when the kinetic energy of an object changes, energy is transferred to or from the object.

  • MS-PS4-1

    Use mathematical representations to describe a simple model for waves that includes how the amplitude of a wave is related to the energy in a wave.

  • MS-PS4-2

    Develop and use a model to describe how waves are reflected, absorbed or transmitted through various materials.