Summer Career Connections Session 5, Day 2, Astrophysics: Extrasolar Planets
Day 2: Today was a great day to be a planet researcher! First, we discussed some strategies for overcoming frustration and what to do when we get “stuck” academically. The students were thoughtful about it and did draw on many techniques today! Given the “Career Connections” nature of the course, I talked about my PhD dissertation and also the kind of knowledge it takes to become an astrophysicist – here’s the concept map I drew out.
While finishing up looking at the graphs of Solar System information from yesterday, we talked about many of the patterns of the Solar System and one student made an astute observation – “That doesn’t seem like coincidence…” Right! It’s physics!! So we had seven patterns shown to us by the data and we had to use it all to figure out how a planetary system forms. To that end, everyone became an expert in a specific thing and got together for a scientific conference. Our goal was to get from a giant cloud of gas and dust to a planetary system. Our experts were: Condensation, Gravity, Hubble Space Telescope, Meteorite, Planet, Rock, Rotation, and Star. Find out which one your student became an expert in and talk about when they really started putting things together and when they feel they completed the puzzle pieces! Once everyone talked to each other, they all had to design a comic strip/labeled diagram that described planetary formation, why there are objects in various positions, and how the seven patterns were shown. Then we looked at some fancy simulations and animations!
We ended up ending the day a bit early due to oncoming storms so we’ll do some impromptu speaking tomorrow while we start working on detecting extrasolar planets and how that affects what data we have to work with. We’ll also start examining exoplanet data.
-Dr. G 🙂