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    This unit plan shows how teacher Matt Boucher extended his year 7/8 students’ learning about light by engaging them in hunting for exoplanets!

    Students first learned about light: light waves travel in straight lines, shadows, colours in the visible spectrum and how light waves behave – reflection, refraction and diffraction. Then they put their learning into practice by becoming citizen scientists.

    First, they needed to know that exoplanets are planets that orbit stars other than our Sun. Next, they used models to understand that, when an exoplanet transits a star, the light intensity that is seen being emitted from the star drops.

    They used this knowledge to access actual datasets online, developing light curves and joining in actual projects to help identify new exoplanets - see Agent Exoplanet and Planet Hunters.

    During this learning, Matt focused on students developing the science capability ‘Interpret representations’.

    The unit also fitted well with the whole-school focus on Matariki.

    Read more about Matt’s thoughts on the unit in this case study.

    Download the Word file (see link below).

    Acknowledgement

    This unit plan was developed by teacher Matt Boucher as part of the Citizen Scientists in the Classroom education research project funded through the Ministry of Education’s Teaching & Learning Research Initiative.

      Published 18 March 2019 Referencing Hub articles