Exoplanet Detector Experiment #2987

This is a discussion for the Exoplanet Detector Experiment. Feel free to connect with the Learning Team here, or to discuss experiment tips, ask questions, leave comments or suggest experiment variations here.

This was definitely a fun project that I think my students could understand. I teach astronomy and the concept of finding planets using this method is always hard for some students to understand. In this lesson, I was able to show how sensitive the sensor is and help give the students an idea of how the exoplanets are found. Unfortunately I could not get the LED to blink but the one on the board did and unfortunately none of the extra labs worked because they said it was not available. Overall one of the more enjoyable labs so far. Would love to figure out how to hook the LCD screen up and be able to make this a mobile lab, but I’m sure it wouldn’t be too hard to figure out since this is very similar to the first lab we did.

This would be great for @KCocco to address your questions in the webinar this week!

Glad you enjoyed. I have been doing some live edits to the lesson to fix some of the problems you mention and should have these wrapped up end of today, thanks for heads up.
The blinking LED, so glad that you noticed the little LED on the Seeeduino/Arduino. The LED on the board is tied to the pin 13, the same one that program uses. Not sure why the LED wouldn’t blink, first guess is rotate 180 dgrees, possibly have the positive / negative backwards?

Great lesson covering one of my favorite topics! Just what I was looking for my 5th-grade students for the Innovation unit. This year they want to explore technologies that we use to explore space. I’m thinking of demonstrating the concept with a light source and a small object moving in front of it. I will ask students to observe if anything concerning the light (luminosity/brightness) changed when the object moved across the light source. Maybe they can use flashlights as stars and small paper/plastic balls as planets. The flashlight will be in the table, and each student will observe the light at the same level. Then the other students will roll the ‘planets’ right across, and students will notice the drop in luminosity.

Afterward, we’ll discuss light sensors and the Kepler Telescope. Then in teams, they’ll try this activity and try to detect the dips in luminosity or make the LED blink. Success will be measured by their ability to get stable readings at first and then notice the drops in brightness.


This experiment has a lot of potential. I can see our upper grade students get really into this. I did have some problems with the sensor kit, so I had to restore the default Seeduino.

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Glad that this looks like a fit for doing with your students! If you are still having some issues with your kit, please drop a message at support@becauselearning.com and we would be happy to help.

Had a great turn out for today’s exoplanet webinar today, if you missed it live here is the recording: https://youtu.be/cPsZGQOwqiE
slides: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1X8emkXmR3ALDg_jKjvxF4PZVZwMIyF0-SoNyB49uAcI/edit?usp=sharing

I think your 5th graders will definitely love this lesson! It’ll be great to engage them to create planets of various sizes and see how that will change the readings.

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This is great! I will begin Kepler’s Laws later this month, and I hope to use this with my physics classes. I know it will inspire a few of the students to work on this further. I found that turning out the light, using my cell phone, and a pen for my planet worked well. I first tried a paperclip - but it didn’t seem to block the light well enough. I like that it integrates current research to what we will be studying in class, and even if I do not have enough materials for students to try at the same time, I can use as a demo, and then allow students to “play” with the challenge in smaller groups. Thank you for the great idea! I think it will really allow students to connect with light, distances, and the ability to collect and analyze data.


The kit is fine after I restored it. :slight_smile:

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This is a fun activity! We don’t do any activities in our classes our camps here directly related to outer space (we focus on inner space!), but the activity and seeing the change in luminosity has a lot of potential for us to use. Anything with LEDs is an activity the students will love!

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Like the cell phone light and pen model, easily available. Here is a Kepler’s Laws / Exoplanet guide that you may find useful: https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/edu/teach/activity/exploring-exoplanets-with-kepler/

Yes. Thank you. I am always looking for another activity I can use to reinforce a concept. This one is great! Thank you.

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This lesson was interesting! Incorporating conditional code is a nice component that will have students thinking. I also think it is a good lesson to have students make predictions about what the luminosity readings they would expect for different size planets. This lesson integrates many of the critical thinking skills that I try to have my students develop.

This was a very interesting lesson and I loved the exoplanet webinar earlier in the week. While I think learning about exoplanets may be a little difficult for my 1st graders to understand they will definitely like seeing the correlation between the light (sun) and planets in our solar system! This fits well into 1st Grade Science Core Ideas of Space Systems, Patterns and Cycles as well as Light Waves. They will also love designing and decorating their own planet to use in the demonstration. My GT students always enjoy learning more about the solar system.

I like the idea of modifying the lesson to fit younger students and getting them interested at a younger, is great. This would be a great activity to incorporate into our STEM camp this summer (5th-8th grade students). Having them create their own planets of different sizes and seeing their predictions.

This is a great extension when I teach conics in precalculus. The webinar really helped me accomplish and understand this lesson this week. The set up of the Arduino, the explanation to use different size cutouts of the plants, and then how to interpret the data was well explained. I liked the image of the Sun’s closest neighbors as I can incorporate that in my class when I am teaching conics to connect the math and the science concepts. I can also reinforce how to interpret and predict data as a lot of my students still have some difficulties in those areas.

I could definitely incorporate this into projects with both 5th grade and 1st grade.

Currently our 5th graders mainly study our solar system, and the maker project challenges teams to design a space vehicle that could, theoretically, transport humans around their assigned planet taking into consideration atmosphere, terrain, and general safety and comfort for the passengers. Adding on to that lesson, looking beyond our solar system - using Hawking’s quote about the possibility of other life forms in our universe -, and how we use our technology to identify exoplanets could be really fun for them, and this lesson is definitely easy enough for 5th grade to set up and test.

1st grade is a different story! We simply make straw rockets with them and discuss how humans explore space at a very basic level. We’d need a good working model of our solar system to demonstrate how our planets pass in front of our sun during their orbits for them to begin to comprehend the idea of identifying exoplanets by dips in luminosity of their own stars, but I think we could get there. Worth a try!

This project would fit well as an extension to what I am already doing with my third grade after-school AstroKnights Club. We have been studying our solar system (each student has been assigned a planet to research using the NASA Space Place website) and we are about ready to create 2-D models of our planets using large cardboard circles and gluing plastic bottle caps to the cardboard to create more depth than using just paint or crayons. Students will be beginning this STEAM project on Wednesday, so no pics available yet, but I do have a pic of a Cat in the Hat project to give you a better idea of what I am talking about!

Next year (we won’t have time this year, because we are moving directly into building our Estes rockets and planning our EOY Launch Party) I would like to do the planet project earlier and add this project to follow the art project. Their models they create can because their exo-planets, (or better yet, they could create their own Exo-planets!) and we can easily model the star using some lights I have for testing Solar House designs! I am very excited to have more material for my afterschool Club plans!IMG_4970