Seeking Other Worldsby: David Koch, Edna K. DeVore, Alan Gould, and Pamela Harmen

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Is Earth unique in the universe? What is a habitable planet? How abundant are habitable planets? NASA’s Kepler Mission team seeks answers to these questions. Launching in 2009, Kepler is NASA’s first mission capable of finding Earth-sized and smaller planets in the habitable zone of other stars in our galaxy. This space mission offers an intriguing context for teaching and learning science concepts that support the National Science Education Standards in “Earth and Space Sciences” and “Science as Inquiry.” These activities include building models, positing explanations, understanding our solar system and extending that knowledge to other planetary systems, interpreting graphical data, and applying mathematics to analyze science data.

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Reviews (3)
  • on Fri Jul 11, 2014 11:26 AM

NASA’s Kepler Mission, launched in 2009 was the first mission tasked with finding planets similar to Earth’s in terms of size, mass and similar surface temperature. To accomplish this task astronomers looked at the data sent back from Kepler for tiny changes in the brightness stars’ that occurs when a planet crosses in front of it. The balance of the article discusses astronomer’s expectations, discovering extra solar planets and more. This article provides insight as to why we still have lots to do when exploring outer space.

Adah  (San Antonio, TX)
Adah (San Antonio, TX)

  • on Mon Dec 09, 2013 11:19 PM

This article gives a great overview of resources that can be used to help middle school students understand the Kepler mission. It also explains the application of physics in finding exoplanets. When used in conjunction with the data that can be found at, it would be an excellent addition to an astronomy unit or a light unit. I could also see using these resources with modifications with high school students.

Ruth Hutson  (Westmoreland, KS)
Ruth Hutson (Westmoreland, KS)

  • on Tue Oct 19, 2010 10:06 AM

This article could easily be the counterpart to the high school version, "Finding Other Worlds". It is full of important background information for middle school teachers who may or may not have had formal astronomy classes (and is a good refresher for those of us who have). It also frames planetary exploration within that famous question students love to ask, "Do you believe there's life on other planets?"

Kendra Young  (Lake Stevens, WA)
Kendra Young (Lake Stevens, WA)

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