Ward's World Activity Guides

Exoplanet Identification Demonstration

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Exoplanet Identification Demonstration + ward ' s science Recommended Grade Level(s): Appropriate for: Grades 6+ Time Requirements: Prep Time: 5 minutes Activity Time: 10–25 minutes Teaching Topics & Concepts: • Through this activity students will gain hands-on experience with a method to identify the existence of exoplanets. • Measurement • Interpreting data Materials: • Probeware with attached light meter • Strong, non-fluorescent, light source • Small pendulum Safety • Always read the SDS for all chemicals before handling them. • Wear safety glasses, gloves, and lab coat or apron. • Use care working with a strong light source because surfaces may become hot. ! Background Your class has been asked to hunt for planets outside of our solar system. All of the planets in our solar system orbit around the Sun. Planets that orbit around other stars are called exoplanets. Humans throughout history have asked, "Are we alone in the universe?" Today, researchers have the tools to begin to answer this question with scientific observations. Your class is being asked to use similar methods to help locate these exoplanets. Your findings will help us come closer to understanding how other planets compare to the ones in our own solar system. Each new exoplanet discovery will teach us a little bit more about how the universe works and how our own planetary system fits into it. Procedure: Note: Ideally this activity should be performed in a space or hallway where light can be turned off. 1. Set up the light source. 2. Place the pendulum 2–3 feet in front of the light source. – When the light is on, the pendulum should not be visible. If the pendulum is visible, try a smaller pendulum, a brighter light, or move the pendulum further from the bulb. 3. Set up the probeware for recording input from the light meter. 4. Students should stand at least 10 feet from the pendulum with the light meter pointed at the light source. 5. Turn off all other lights if possible. 6. Holding the pendulum out of the way, record the light intensity as a baseline. 7. Have students begin recording. 8. Release the pendulum, so it passes back and forth in front of the light, and have students record the light source. Allow for at least 5 passes of the pendulum in front of the light. 9. Have students move further away and repeat the experiment at least 2 more times. – If space is available, students can also attempt to record from different angles. 10. View the graphs of each recording.

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