Summer Career Connections Session 5, Day 1, Astrophysics: Extrasolar Planets
Day 1: “Astrophysics: Extrasolar Planets” had a great start to our week together. The students are so excited to learn and ask all of their questions about astronomy!
We started out the day with introductions of each other – it’s great to learn what people have in common and to learn about something new and to practice speaking as all scientists have to be able to communicate their work verbally and in writing. Students did a great job describing good speakers and then putting it into practice. We also designed our Classroom Guidelines – I was impressed with the thoughtfulness of many of the students regarding what makes a great classroom.
To start our exoplanet exploration, we first have to learn about as many planets as we can! Luckily, we have a Solar System of worlds, some with similar qualities to others (“twinsies”), some not. While we started with just a data table, we had so much to discuss. First, we talked about how the number of “planets” has fluctuated throughout time then discussed some things students noticed within the data table. We also looked up information about spacecraft escaping the Solar System using <a href=”https://heavens-above.com/main.aspx”>Heaven’s Above</a>.
In order to communicate information about the data available to us, we then did some plotting using scatter plots, first on a linear scale, then on a logarithmic scale! We discussed the pros and cons of logarithmic scales so you may wish to discuss some with your student. We also started looking at how one can look at data to see more than just a trend (there are groupings and limits and blank areas). Here are some examples of what we looked at today:
Throughout our discussions of the graphs, many were super excited to discuss other things like astronomical symbols and future Martians! To finish our day, we started impromptu speaking – everyone will eventually talk in front of the class using a topic they pick out of a lunchbox (a good starting prompt is “Hi, my name is ___ and when I think of _*topic*_, I think of…”). We’re practicing speaking skills for our end-of-the-week poster presentations!
Tomorrow, we will continue to examine Solar System data with an eye toward using it all to determine how planetary systems form and then put it into practice as scientists!
Have a great evening!
-Dr. G 🙂