Designing the Exoplanet Adventure

What does end-of-the-year-review look like in your classroom? 


I know in my biology classroom, I had review packets that the diligent students grudgingly filled in over a few class periods (and the not-as-motivated students simply ignored).  I always wanted to create some sort of fun-review activity to get students thinking and reviewing their knowledge from the year. Recently a lightbulb went off and I thought of creating a scenario-based review where students investigate something mysterious but at the same time integrate the biology they learned throughout the year.


These are some questions I always get, every year, by an inquisitive student (who may or may not also secretly be trying to get me off track from what we are actually studying):

Is there life on other planets? 

If there was life was other planets, what would the organisms look like?


I decided to create a review stations-type activity where students could walk around and learn about some mysterious (and fictional) alien creature on some exoplanet, a little more at each station, AND review the biology they have already learned at the same time.  As I wrote the scenario, I researched what scientists believe would be true of life on other planets.  


I am intentionally not giving away any actual details about the activities in this blog post because I know there are some students who are googling it and trying to get some answers.


BWAHAHAHA: To those students, if you’re reading this and hoping for some tips or hints or clues, you are OUT of luck.  Open your biology notebook, use your logic and biological knowledge to answer the questions as best as you can, and ask your classmates for their thoughts. Some questions are meant to be challenging – no shortcuts!!


In order to make the review activity truly a review, I had to “invent” that the life forms on this planet has very similar cellular mechanisms.  One of the big assumptions I had to just state was true is that the organisms have DNA and genetic information is passed from generation to generation, just like organisms on Earth.  If I was creating a more exploratory activity, I would probably change that, and have students come up with a way to test whether the organism A) had DNA-like molecules and B) it was used for passing genetic information. But as a review, some of the background information and details had to be simplified in order to help the activity fulfill its actual purpose: review!


I’m really excited about how this activity came out. 


Each station has two sets of questions teachers can use – 1 all short answer and 1 that has some multiple choice and some short answer.



Some stations have infographics, some have diagrams, some have a graph or data table!



In some of the scientific studies involved, there are some strange results that students have to try and figure out how to explain!



The topics that are reviewed with the stations include the following:

  • Aerobic Cellular Respiration (reactants and products)
  • Photosynthesis (reactants and products)
  • Properties of Water
  • Elements and Chemical Structure of the Biological Molecules
  • Abiotic and Biotic Factors
  • Community Relationships
  • Producers, Consumers, and Decomposers
  • Food Webs
  • Qualitative vs Quantitative
  • Carrying Capacity
  • Boom and Bust Cycles
  • Organizational Levels of Life
  • Leaf structure/function
  • Prokaryotic vs Eukaryotic Cells
  • Light and chemical energy
  • Light Absorption Spectra
  • Biological Molecules and Function (Carbohydrates, Lipids, Proteins, and Nucleic Acids)
  • Transcription and Translation (Overview, purpose, enzymes involved)
  • ATP Synthesis
  • Nitrogen Cycle
  • Osmosis
  • Membrane Transport Proteins and Facilitated Diffusion
  • Mitosis and Meiosis (purpose, comparison, stages of each)
  • Gametes, Fertilization, Ploidy
  • Karyotypes
  • Phylogenetic Tree Interpretation
  • Simple Dominance and Punnett Squares

You can learn more about this resource by checking it out here in my website store or here in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.



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