E.T. Do Math

3.8 based on 4 ratings

Updated on Feb 08, 2012

Grade Level: 9th - 12th; Type: Math


Determine the probability of the existence of intelligent extra-terrestrial life. The goals of this project are:

  1. To construct a mathematical argument for or against the existence of intelligent life away from earth.

Research Questions:

  • How old is the universe?
  • How long has earth supported the existence of intelligent life?
  • How many planets and solar systems exist in the entire universe?
  • What are the elemental conditions necessary for ambulatory life forms to evolve?
  • What are the odds that earth is the only place where such things happen?

No one knows for sure if intelligent extraterrestrial life exists or ever existed. But many believe intelligent beings live elsewhere, despite a complete lack of compelling physical evidence. Why do some academics believe it to be true? This project requires you to devise a mathematical argument regarding the probable reality of this particular cosmic coincidence.


  • Computer with Internet access
  • Color printer
  • Digital camera
  • Typical office/hobby/hardware/craft supplies (paper, poster board, glue, etc.)

All necessary materials can be found in or around your home, at local stores, or on ebay.

Experimental Procedure:

  1. Thoroughly study relevant topics (see bibliography below and terms listed above)
  2. Address all of the above terms and research questions.
  3. Search and print out interesting images relevant to your topic.
  4. Take photographs throughout the course of the experiment.
  5. Consult astronomers for their opinions and advice.
  6. Devise your mathematical argument.
  7. Write up your findings in a detailed report
  8. Include interesting photos, diagrams, models and charts in your science fair display.

Terms/Concepts: Probabilities; Statistics


Judee Shipman is a Bay Area Educational Consultant and professional writer of quality educational materials. Her recent writing credits include Top50States.com (a popular and entertaining website about states), and a book called The Portable Chess Coach (Cardoza, 2006), currently available in stores.

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