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Planet Hunters at Girls Do Hack

Today we have a guest post by Lauren Kelly. Lauren is an Educator for STEM Student Experiences at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, IL, and holds a degree in Science Journalism from Columbia College Chicago. She loves working with young people and encouraging them to explore science.


Image credit- Adler Planetarium

On November 9th, 65 young women participated in Girls Do Hack at the Adler Planetarium, where they explored science, technology, engineering and math skills and fields as future career options. It was a incredibly fun, inspiring day.

As an Adler educator, I had the wonderful opportunity of leading a session about detecting exoplanets that many of the girls participated in. During the session, participants discovered how scientists find exoplanets using the transit method by doing a hands-on experiment creating and measuring light curves, practicing categorizing transits on Planet Hunters and working with the help of a postdoc Astronomer to explore real systems using NASA’s Eyes on Exoplanets program.

Image credit- Adler Planetarium

Image credit- Adler Planetarium

It was brain-bending work, and it sparked many interesting discussions about how scientists verify the existence of exoplanets and what the many different types of exoplanets would be like to visit. Besides having a ton of fun, the girls practiced real science skills by analyzing data, identifying patterns, using technology and solving problems in teams. They seemed to be genuinely excited and inspired by the science of finding exoplanets and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the participants contributed the 20 million classifications now on Planet Hunters in the days since Girls Do Hack!

Image Credit: Adler Planetarium

Image Credit: Adler Planetarium

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