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The Drake Equation | Posted in Earth and Space Science

The Drake equation is not directly used by scientists in their research. Rather it is often used when talking about life in the universe to non-scientists, such as in astrobiology courses, as James mentioned. One of the keynote addresses I sometimes deliver is on astrobiology, and I discuss the Drake equation quite a lot, as it relates to many fascinating topics regarding the development of life in the universe, where we would expect to find life, and how common we might expect life to be.

The purpose of the Drake equation is not to give a precise answer to that fundamental question -- How many technological civilizations are in our galaxy? -- but to form the basis of discussions by presenting various types of information that we would need to know, if we wanted to answer that question.

So basically the Drake equation is a statement that "stimulates intellectual curiosity about the universe around us, for helping us to understand that life as we know it is the end product of a natural, cosmic evolution, and for helping us realize how much we are a part of that universe." (

What the equation and the search for life has done is focus science on some of the issues concerning life in the universe, specifically the development of life starting with chemical processes, the development of multi-cellular life, and the development of intelligence.


Matthew Bobrowsky

First Day of School Science Activities | Posted in Life Science

Hello Lauren, A good beginning of the school year activity would be one that gets students thinking about the scientific progress to set the standard for the labs that would come for the rest of the year. Some ways to do this are setting up different stations that could be good for observation like, the characteristics of a flower, or even the way worms interact. You can have students make hypothesis based on their conceptions of the different stations. You can also do another exercise that can be done in perspective lab groups as a team building exercise. This consists of giving each group a handful of marshmallows and spaghetti sticks. They have to building a tower with the materials and see who's stands up the longest. Its quite a fun first day activity. Hope this helps!

Antonia Passalacqua

Interaction with Force, Mass, and Motion | Posted in Physical Science

In my physics classroom, we use both hands-on activities and pHet simulations.  The hands-on activities provide concrete experience with the phenomena that my students are studying.  The computer simulations help them further explore those concrete experience by looking at the phenomena a different way.  For example, when study projectiles, I have students build mini-catapults and test how they work.  They observe and describe how motion projectile motion looks. Then they follow up that activity with the pHet simulation in which they can more easily control variables so they can test the different factors that contribute to projectile motion. 

Ruth Hutson

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Larissa Colon

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