Exoplanets in schools: try our activities!

One year has passed since the beginning of our “Exoplanets in schools” project, whose objective is to create educational resources on exoplanets and the search for life for elementary and secondary school staff in Quebec. Since then, several steps of this project, led by the Institute for Research on Exoplanets at the Université de Montréal, and funded by the NovaScience program of the Ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation, have been completed: the creation of a community of teachers, two series of co-creation workshops, the large-scale deployment of our first activity, and now, a more intensive period of testing our activities in Quebec classrooms.

Explore the Sky… and Exoplanets Challenge – a great success!

Discover the Universe, a project partner, presented our very first activity, the Explore the Sky… and Exoplanets Challenge, between November 2021 and January 2022.

Discover the Universe, a partner in the project, presented our very first activity between November 2021 and January 2022: the Challenge: Explore the Sky… and Exoplanets Challenge. More than 300 teachers from all over Quebec and Canada registered, and received several tools to share the wonders of the starry sky with their students. Despite the upheaval in schools caused by the fifth wave of the pandemic that happened during the holiday season, we received many beautiful testimonials, such as the following:

“My students are super motivated. They are fascinated by this week’s observation [of the planets Jupiter, Saturn and Venus in the evening sky in December 2021], among others. Many told me that their parents did not know that these three points of light were planets in our Solar System. The clouds have indeed been very present these days, but they are not discouraged. The videos are very well designed and accessible. It really doesn’t take long to present, but if you want to expand, there are plenty of possibilities.” – A Saguenay 5-6th grade teacher

School staff, we need you!

Are you a school staff member (primary and secondary school teachers, educational consultants, career counselors, lab technicians, etc.)? Do you work in Quebec? Are you interested in astronomy? Are you just a little bit, moderately, or very comfortable with this subject? Would you like to learn more about the search for life in the Universe and exoplanets (planets outside our Solar System) and get ideas on how to integrate the latest discoveries in the field from Quebec researchers into your curriculum?

Simply fill out the following form: https://bit.ly/exoplanetes_ecole_interet.

There are many ways to get involved, for example by testing an activity in your classroom (see next section), by joining our community on Facebook to participate in discussions, or simply by talking about our project with your colleagues. Please note that the resources and supporting materials are only in French, for the time being.

Testing period

Between January and June 2022 we are inviting a few classes to experience the activities we have designed for elementary and secondary schools, with the help of our partner École en réseau. For each of the activities in the calendar below, we will invite a small group of 5 to 10 enthusiastic teachers. Please note that the schedule is subject to change.

For each activity, we provide all the materials needed to complete the activity: flowcharts, presentations, fill-in-the-blank sheets, student activity sheets, etc. Pictured are some of the material for the activity “Extraterrestrial Planetary Systems”, in its primary (left) and secondary (right) versions.

  • February: “Systèmes planétaires extraterrestres” Extraterrestrial Planetary Systems (scale reproductions of our Solar System and other planetary systems)
  • March: “À l’aventure dans ton système planétaire” Adventure in your planetary system (invention of a realistic planetary system)
  • April: “Connais-tu ces nouveaux mondes?” Do you know these new worlds (creation of a catalogue of planets in our Solar System and elsewhere)
  • May: “Des extraterrestres de chez nous!” Aliens at home! (“alien” life forms and living environments)
  • February: “Systèmes planétaires extraterrestres” Extraterrestrial Planetary Systems (scale reproductions of our Solar System and other planetary systems)
  • March: “À l’aventure dans ton système planétaire” Adventure in your planetary system (invention of a realistic planetary system)
  • April: “Tu as découvert une exoplanète!” You’ve discovered an exoplanet! (study and analyse an exoplanet as would an astronomer)
  • May-June: “Les yeux sur les exoplanètes” Eyes on exoplanets and “Classer les exoplanètes, tout un casse-tête!” Classifying exoplanets, a puzzling task (work with the NASA web tool “Eyes on exoplanets” and the “taxonomy” of planets)
  • May-June: “Où sont les civilisations extraterrestres?” Where are the extraterrestrial civilizations? (Are there extraterrestrial civilizations capable of communicating with us? How to evaluate the likelihood that this is the case?)

Would you like to try one of these activities in your classroom? We need your help! All the information and materials are provided, and you can send us your comments and suggestions orally or in writing, after you have presented the activity in your classroom.

If you are interested in the tests, or would like to be kept informed of the availability of these resources, please fill out the form: https://bit.ly/exoplanetes_ecole_interet.

We look forward to working with you!


About our partners

The Exoplanets in schools project is led by the Institute for Research on Exoplanets (Faculty of Arts and Sciences of the Université de Montréal), in collaboration with many partners:

Several primary and secondary schools across the province are also partners in the project.

About the NovaScience program

The ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation‘s NovaScience program aims to promote a greater understanding of science and technology among youth and the general public, as well as the training of a new generation of scientists.