The search for habitable planets offers excellent opportunities to advance students’ understanding of core ideas in physics, including gravity and the laws of motion, the interaction of light and matter, and especially the nature of scientific inquiry. Thanks to the development of online telescopes, students can detect more than a dozen of the known exoplanets from the classroom, using data they gather, assess, and interpret for themselves. We present a suite of activities in which students apply basic physics concepts to their investigations of exoplanets. The activities were developed and successfully tested with physics and earth science teachers in secondary schools in 14 states. Included are additional challenges and assessments suitable for introductory college physics courses.
Gould, R. R., Sunbury, S., & Krumhansl, R. (2012). Using online telescopes to explore exoplanets from the physics classroom. American Journal of Physics, 80, 445.