Students estimate the number of civilizations in the galaxy by first estimating the number of craters on the Moon and then by performing estimates of multiplevariable systems culminating in the use of the Drake Equation. In this threepart activity, students use estimation techniques to describe complex situations. By completing this acitivity, the learner will:
National Science Education Standards National Mathematics Education Standards
Activity
1: ExplorationHow many craters are on the Moon? Activity Page One gives students a closeup photograph of a small portion of the Moon's surface. Using the scale provided on the image, students count the number of large craters in the image and extrapolate to find the number of such craters on our Moon. Activity 2: Concept IntroductionMaking Complex Estimates. Activity Page Two gives students a list of variables that describe a particular population of students. Students estimate the portion of the population that match the given characteristics and answer questions about how their estimates change with alternatively defined variables. Activity 3: Concept ApplicationUsing The Drake Equation. Activity Page Three allows students to utilize a form of the Drake Equation to estimate the number of communicating civilizations that exist in the Milky Way Galaxy. Students examine the range and definition of each variable comprising the Drake Equation by using the Drake Equation Background Information Sheet and evaluate how changes in the variables influence their result.
