Translating an Alien Message

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In this activity, learners work together to interpret an "alien message." The group pretends that this is the only message from an imaginary civilization, so there is no "key" and thus no "correct" way to interpret it. Multiple groups can share and comment on their interpretations. The instructions emphasize that this is imaginary -- so far no human contact has been made with aliens. Background information on SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) is available on a separate Web page.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
1 cent - $1 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 6 - adult

Resource Type:


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Copies of Alien Message (one per family, from PDF)
  • Pencil for each person


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Astronomy
      • Probes, Satellites and Spacecraft
  • Engineering and Technology
    • Technology
      • Information and Communication
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Formulating Explanations


Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Schatz, Dennis


  • All rights reserved, Project ASTRO, Astronomical Society of the Pacific, 2003