There are hundreds of billions of stars in our galaxy alone. How would you even begin to estimate the odds of life existing beyond Earth? In the 1960's, astronomer Frank Drake proposed a way of breaking the process into pieces: Start with the number of stars. Then estimate the fraction of stars with planets. Then the fraction of planets that are Earth-like. And so on. This online interactive allows students to form and test a hypothesis about life in the universe using this method. Afterward, they can compare their ideas to those of other students who have completed the interactive. We recommend having students experiment multiple times with the Drake Equation and analyzing the factors that affected their results. More advanced students can use the interactive to practice their probability calculation skills.
In this lesson plan, which is adaptable for grades 3-12, students use BrainPOP resources to explore the odds of alien life beyond our solar system. Students will explain the principles of The Drake Equation and use information from the online interactive Drake Equation game to form a hypothesis about life in other galaxies. This lesson plan is aligned to Common Core State Standards. See more »