Exoplanet Detector Experiment #2987


Are you talking the stomp rockets made from plastic bottles, tubing and duct tape? If so, I’ve done that, and it was WAY too complex for the little people. I ended up having them just make the paper rocket tubes to put on the mechanism. The enjoyment of making paper tubes was short lived :smile:


I saw this today and thought it fit well with this discussion. One of my favorite things about science is how relevant it is to the students. We can introduce them to these experiments and then show them how NASA scientists are doing this all the time.


What a great resource. Thanks for sharing!


This is a fascinating experiment. I recently listened to this great book on audible called The Search for Exoplanets: What Astronomers Really Know. I cannot highly enough recommend this lecture series from The Great Courses.

In the lectures the author covers how Kepler and other telescopes find exoplanets, as well as why we find more “Hot Jupiters” than earth like planets, that Earth isn’t in the habitable zone, and why it’s easier to find earth like planets around cooler stars than the sun, and that they’ve even found planets without stars! But the book is read aloud. There’s no diagrams so you really have to visualize it in your mind. I love this experiment in that it visually shows what is going on and why there are cyclical dips in luminosity. I also really love this experiment in that it takes front line science and makes it so visual and accessible to everyone!

I’d love to do this experiment in an astronomy class. As part of a curriculum I’d like to do this experiment. Then, give them some group discussion time on their own to think on what types of planets are easy to find and what are hard planets to find… have them think on the planet in our solar system and which do they think are easier to find and why. After their group time then move into some lecture - define a “hot Jupiter” and maybe talk about star classification to talk about what stars would be easier to see planets around. Because it’s so fascinating and because I’m a zooniverse junkie. I’d love to give them some homework or extra credit to look at real data via Citizen Science. So maybe read up on Exoplanet Explorers (out of data) and Planet Hunter Tess. Then they can try looking for planets using the same techniques in this experiment but on real satellite data.

A very inspiring experiment!


Here are some programs:



I just finished my space unit, but I can see this as a useful tool for understanding scientific research. As an Environmental Science and Engineering program, we can also use this to survey sites for locating solar panels and garden spaces. But we need to look at the UV specrum in particular for plants, so that is an excellent research piece.


Thank you for the links to lecture series!


Kevin, I think you’d really like it. Especially since you demoed the experiment. : ) It’s worth the listen! If you check it out you’ll have to let me know what you think.


Great resource. Thanks so much for sharing!


Thanks for sharing this with the group!


Hello guys I am back on track, I am using an old arduino because my ardusat stop working.

  1. Where does this lesson fit in with your curriculum?
    This will work to develop great after school programs or STEM academies. What I would do is to simulate a mission. I would probably print some 3D models of the Kepler telescope.

  1. Which part or parts of the lesson would your students need extra support in order to be successful?
    Measuring and 3d printing.

  2. If you were to teach this lesson to your class, describe your role during the class. What does a successful teacher actively do during this lesson?
    Guiding the research questions about how NASA discovers exoplanets.

  3. If you were to teach this lesson to your class, describe your student’s role during the class. What does “student success” look like? The students would design a new telescope to fit the ardusat either using cardboard or 3D printing.


I love your ideas of including 3D printing. I am interested in 3D printing cases for the seeduino just to make them a bit more durable for Freshman wiggles.


This was a very interesting simulation of how scientists research and learn about the solar system. I think it would be great to end the lesson by having the students come up with ways to apply this knowledge/skill in their everyday life. For example a motion sensor. Maybe that would be a way to introduce the topic.


Here’s a great site for 3D printing files that you students can explore! https://www.thingiverse.com/


Loving the Kepler telescope 3D print!


First, thank you for hosting the webinar about this activity! It was super helpful to see someone doing it in real time!

Sadly, I don’t get to teach about space in my course, but I will totally share this with the teachers who do. I love how it takes research that could be really difficult to access and make sense of and breaks it down in such a way that anyone can easily participate and understand the principles behind it.

When I think about how I might use this in the classroom - I would adapt it to use the sensor to measure ambient light in the classroom and specifically how different blinds might affect the light levels in our room.

I don’t anticipate the students having much difficulty with this activity, as it’s all very straightforward. I do, however, think there are lots of opportunities for modification and adaptation of this activity. I love how clear the sensors are and how many things they can be used for. When I conduct my project on monitoring and measuring various classroom factors, I will definitely include this set up!


A motion sensor would be very cool!


oooh this is an awesome link!


I did not create a model so I did not complete the entire lesson. However, using the LED and code, I was able to understand the purpose of the lesson. This seems a bit advanced for the students I will be working with, but I think the concept could be adapted, just to focus on creating circuits and sensing levels of light.


Thank you for the video and the resources. I really enjoyed watching the webinar and the size comparison 2 video. This is lesson brings understanding for our studens at a tangible level. Students are always very curious about exoplanets and don’t quite understand how data is collected. I believe this lesson will bring understanding and a sense of success to all students.