Astrophysics - Unit Detail

Total duration

16 lessons, 1 hour each

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Lesson 7.2 – Life beyond Earth – What’s the chance?

Learning outcomes

In this lesson students explore:

Big ideas

Learning Sequence

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  1. Welcome students to this lesson and encourage several of the students new to this unit to introduce themselves to each other and the class.
  2. Investigation – Teacher introduces a brief history of the search for extraterrestrial life from the first SETI experiments and conference in the early 1960’s to the 1999 SETI@home crowd sourced project which still continues to be managed by the University of California, Berkeley.
  3. Discussion – Use the BBC - Were we contacted by aliens in 1977? Website to investigate the WOW signal and the science behind the most recent estimations calculated using the Drake Equation. Resources

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  4. Collaboration – Teacher divides the class into break out groups and students discuss the variety of problems associated with communicating with aliens. Students view YouTube clip - Contact – 1997. Resources
  5. Investigation – Students view YouTube - Contact Opening Scene to discuss encountering distant radio signals. Q - What is wrong with this scene? Resources
  6. Reflection – Teacher debriefs the student’s comments from the breakout groups and revisits the challenge of decoding the secret alien message.
  7. Students’ return to their Breakout group’s to work independently on their planetary mission planning and design introduced in the previous lesson. Teachers monitor progress and providing support as needed.

Home Learning

  1. Students to investigate the WOW signal recorded by astronomer Dr Jerry Ehman in 1977 working on a SETI project using the Ohio State University ‘Big Ear’ radio telescope. Resources

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  2. Students are given a secret encoded alien message to try and decode before the final class?