Exoplanets in the Classroom

A student studying the craters on the Moon. (Credit: Pexels)
A student studying the craters on the Moon. (Credit: Pexels)

The Exoplanets in the Classroom project aims to create educational resources (in French only, for the time being) for elementary and secondary school staff in Quebec on exoplanets and the search for life elsewhere in the Universe, topics in which iREx researchers are world leaders.

WHEN? The development of these resources will be completed over two years, from February 2021 to January 2023. The resources website will soon be online!

WHO? The project is led by the Trottier Institute for Research on exoplanets within the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at the Université de Montréal in collaboration with several partners, and is funded by the NovaScience program of the ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation.

Astrophysicists Marie-Eve Naud, Frédérique Baron and Nathalie Ouellette from iREx, Julie Bolduc-Duval and Lindsay Mann, respectively Director and Communications Coordinator for the Discover the Universe program, as well as Marie-Claude Nicole and Gabrielle B. Durand from École en réseau, contributed greatly to this project, in collaboration with more than one hundred school personnel from across Quebec. Durand from École en réseau have largely contributed to this project, in collaboration with more than a hundred members of the Quebec school staff.

WHY? Thanks to this project, the school community will be well equipped to introduce cutting-edge subjects to Quebec youth, encouraging their natural curiosity for big questions such as: “Are we alone in the Universe? and “Is the Earth unique?”. By exploring these particularly exciting questions in a dynamic and accessible way, our aim is to stimulate the interest of school staff and students in astronomy and science in general. The resources we are creating are rooted in the Quebec school curriculum, and helps to deepen learning and to connect young people to Quebec scientists.


Project progress

Upcoming Phases:

  • Fall 2022: Soyez à l’affût pour la publication de notre site web avec les premières ressources!
  • Fall 2022 and Winter 2023: Marie-Eve Naud of iREx and Julie Bolduc-Duval of À la découverte de l’univers are hosting a Community of Practice on exoplanets through École en réseau (more details to come).
  • Fall 2022: iREx’s  Marie-Eve Naud and Julie Bolduc-Duval of Discover the Universe meet with teachers and other school personnel at the Aestq (October 20-21) and AQEP (November 24-25) conferences.

Phases in progress :

  • Summer-Fall 2022: the design of the website that will host all the resources.
  • Summer 2022: the design of a new series of video vignettes called “Des exoplanètes et nous (Exoplanets and Us). This series of three vignettes will be available later in the Fall of 2022.
  • Summer 2022: the development of one new Exobite video, to be added in the Fall to the already published ExoBites series, used for elementary and secondary school.

Completed Steps: 

  • Summer 2022: the organisation of a third series of co-creation workshops, to work specifically on the materials developed for the high school level.
  • Spring 2022: the design of four short and simple activities for the high school kit, better suited to the reality of school personnel, as formulated during the second series of co-creation workshops.
  • Winter-Spring 2022: the testing of three of the other activities of the elementary school kit with dozens of classes in Quebec through three events presented by École en réseau.
  • Winter 2022: the large-scale deployment of our first activity of the elementary school kit, thanks to our partner À la découverte de l’univers.
  • Fall 2021: the organisation of a second series of co-creation workshops with a dozen elementary and secondary school teachers to continue the creation of the activities.
  • Summer 2021: the writing of the first draft of activities for elementary and secondary schools.
  • Spring 2021: the organisation of a first series of co-creation workshops with about 30 school staff members (elementary and secondary teachers, pedagogical advisors), to better understand the needs and expectations of the community.
  • Spring 2021: the creation of a teacher community on Facebook, where we are discussing several aspects of the project with school staff members.
  • Spring 2021: announcement of the beginning of the project.



Get involved in resource development

If you are a member of the school staff (elementary and secondary school teachers, pedagogical advisors, guidance counsellors, TTPs, etc.) in Quebec, it is still possible to get involved in this project!

There are many ways to get involved, such as testing an activity in your classroom, joining our community on Facebook to participate in discussions, or simply talking about our project with your colleagues.

Fill out the form at https://bit.ly/exoplanetes_ecole_interet to express your interest.


About the Trottier Institute for Research on Exoplanets

The Trottier Institute for Research on Exoplanets, created in 2014, brings together a team of more than 50 professors, researchers and students from four Quebec universities and the Montreal Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium, working on the study of exoplanets, planets that orbit stars other than the Sun. The Institute is also actively involved in science education and outreach, organising and participating in numerous initiatives aimed at various audiences.


About our partners

The Exoplanets in the Classroom project is led by the Trottier Institute for Research on Exoplanets in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences of the Université de Montréal, and involves several partners:

An elementary school, École Gadbois in Montreal, and a high school, Polyvalente de Black Lake in Thetford Mines, are also partners in this project, to which dozens of school personnel from across the province contribute.


About the NovaScience program

The ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation‘s NovaScience program aims to promote a greater understanding of science and technology among youth and the general public, as well as the training of a new generation of scientists.