Lesson 4: SETI WebQuest and the Drake Equation


This activity requires approximately one 30-minute classe

  • 1 Class for the WebQuest activity


Demonstrate and explain the importance of selecting appropriate processes for investigating scientific questions and solving technological problems (e.g., explain why astrology is not a part of science)
Describe how evidence must be continually questioned in order to validate scientific knowledge (e.g., provide examples of ideas, such as the flat Earth, the Earth as the centre of the solar system, and life on Mars, which were or are being challenged to develop new understandings of the natural world)
Describe examples of improvements to the tools and techniques of scientific investigation that have led to new discoveries (e.g., describe examples, such as the lunar buggy, the Canadarm, the Hubble telescope, and space probes, which have extended scientific knowledge)
Describe scientific and technological achievements that are the result of contributions by people from around the world (e.g., describe international contributors related to the construction of the space station)
Identify and use a variety of sources and technologies to gather pertinent information (e.g., use electronic and print resources or visit a planetarium to gather information on the visual characteristics of planets)
Communicate procedures and results, using lists, notes in point form, sentences, charts, graphs, drawings, and oral language (e.g., write a postcard describing your holiday on a planet other than Earth and include in the description the key characteristics of that planet)

General Objectives

Through this lesson, students will learn of the research currently being done in the field of extraterrestrial intelligence research. Students will also have the opportunity to delve into a mathematical equation used to predict the likelihood of the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence.

Curricular Connections

  • Information and Communication Technologies
    • Internet Searching
  • Mathematics
    • Multiplication of very large and very small numbers

Lesson Overview

This activity is involves having students complete a WebQuest, or Internet research activity in which they will complete a guided research worksheet. The students will only be given a single class period for the research so they must stay on task to complete all elements of the worksheet.

WebQuest URL: www.seti.org

Materials and Resources

Nota : This page contains documents for which the access may require a particular software. If the software is not installed, you can download it and follow the instructions for installation.


  • extraterrestrial

Developing the Lesson

  1. Comment that this is an group investigative activity
  2. Handout resources...
    • Student WebQuest sheet
  3. Explain time frames
    • approx. 1 class for WebQuest
  4. Explain lab protocol
    • what students can and cannot do in the computer lab.
    • no off-task surfing
    • stop when the time is up
  5. Assign students to groups
    • 2 students per group
  6. Dismiss students to their groups to begin their task
  7. After 40 mins. reassemble the class and commence the closure activity


Teacher reassembles the class and reviews the WebQuest handout that students completed. After completing this activity, students will likely be full of questions and comments and as a result, students should be encouraged to discuss their feelings with regards to their findings.


Possible Marks 6 4 2 0
Computer lab research and group work Excellent participation and group work Level of participation was adequate Little evidence of work Student was off-task most of the time
Completed WebQuest activity sheet Evidence of excellent research WebQuest is missing key components WebQuest is of poorer quality Evidence of very little if any research
Paragraph explanations The explanations given are very explict in detail and correctly answer the questions ask The explanations given contain adequate detail and are basically correct. Either the explanations lack detail or are very vague. The explanations are inherently wrong and lacks any evidence.