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Group Assignments:
GA#4 March 12 to April 1, 2020
The aim of this assignment is for you to work as a Team researching and compiling information,
deciding on what best goes into your submission, uploading a draft and ultimately submitting
your completed assignment by the due date. Each member of the Group will have a role, a role
which will change for the next Group Assignment. Additionally, to ensure timely adherence to
the submission deadline, a series of Milestones must be met or a penalty will be assessed.
Finally, to assist in the discussion process and to give you a point of contact with the Teaching
Assistant (TA) who will grade your assignment, a Group Forum for your Group Number has
been established. This Forum can only be seen and used by your Group and the assigned TA. It
is here that the Milestone submissions will be uploaded in WORD or PDF format.
Note: you are at liberty to communicate in any “forum format” (e.g., WhatsApp) but all
communication with the TA and the transmission of the Milestones must be through the Group
Forum. You are encouraged to use this Forum for much of the communication between group
members during the GA.
Assuming a Group contains 5 or 6 students, the roles for each member are outlined below. If
the Group size is 4 “active” members then only one Coordinator should be appointed. If your
group has fewer than 4 active members, someone should alert the course coordinator at
nats1880@yorku.ca .
One or two Reference Researchers whose role will be to identify reference materials
beyond the textbook and course notes for use by the Group in developing the ideas
that will be presented by the Draft Writer and ultimately submitted by the
A Draft Writer will be selected whose role it will be to submit, in point form, a draft
summary of the submission that the will be made by the Group through the
A Scribe/Recorder will be selected whose role it is to inform their TA of the roles of all
Group members, and after the assignment has been submitted, to provide a complete
summary of the activities of the Group throughout the process.
There normally will be 2 Coordinators selected from the members of the Group. Their
roles will be to ensure the final written contribution for the Group is submitted before
the deadline. Only one Coordinator can submit for the Group. No other Group member
may submit the assignment. The Coordinators should consider feedback from the TA
and all other Group members for the final draft. Editing and polishing the submission
should occur before it is actually submitted.
These Milestones will not be graded per se but must be adhered to in order to qualify for full
marks on the assignment. Review the marking rubric for more information. Failure to meet a
Milestone will result in a penalty being assessed (See below for more details on the penalty).
1. Thurs 19 March, by noon: The Roles and References of all Group members must be
submitted to the Group Forum by the Scribe.
2. Thurs 26 March, by noon: The Draft Writer will submit to the Group Forum an
overview of what will be contained in the Group’s final submission. This should be no
more than 100 words and should be in (bullet) point form. The final submitted
document must adhere closely to this draft and be based upon the references
submitted in #1.
3. Wed 01 April, by noon: One of the Coordinators must upload the final
submission in either WORD or PDF format to the Course Moodle site.
4. Thurs 02 April, by noon: The Scribe must submit to the Group Forum a brief but
complete summary of the activities/meetings of the Group during the preparation
phase. This report should mention the major contribution(s) from each of the Group
members during the process and contain information where the discussions took place
(e.g., Facebook, Google Hangout, Group Forum, etc.)
Note: Feedback from the TA in the Group Forum on the draft will be received no later than by
noon, Monday 30 March.
Group Assignment #4 – The Drake Equation
Dr. Frank Drake is credited in the 1960’s with deriving an equation that adopts a systematic,
logical approach to answering the question, how many technologically intelligent civilizations
have there been in our Galaxy since its formation, some 12 Gyr ago.
In this final GA for this course, your group is asked to discuss this equation (as originally
formulated by Drake and not the version in our textbook) and to use it to provide two
estimations; an “optimistic” and a “pessimistic” estimation, all in 350 +/- 50 words in WORD or
PDF formats.
What must be included in the GA submission:
The final submission should include in essay format:
 A very brief introduction to the equation (e.g., why it was developed and what it
purports to calculate)
 The equation itself and what each of the factors refers to
 How well each of the factors is known and include both pessimistic (i.e., smallest, within
reason) and optimistic (largest, within reason) estimates for the factor
 Finally, multiply all the factors together to obtain an “optimistic” and “pessimistic” value
for N, the number of technologically intelligent civilizations that might have existed in
our Galaxy. Be sure to comment on whether humankind might make contact with a
technologically intelligent civilization in your lifetime based on each of these numbers.
Final Submission
An important Learning Outcome in this course is to be able to write clearly and persuasively
about relevant scientific issues. There are a number of writing assignments in this course.
Some, like this one, require a Group to submit an assignment.
An assignment must satisfy all three of the following conditions to be accepted without penalty
in this course:
It must satisfy the length requirement (i.e., acceptable number of words).
It must be uploaded to the course Moodle website in either WORD or PDF
It must be uploaded before the due date/time.
Feedback and grading of writing assignments will be performed by experienced Teaching
Assistants (TAs). While each assignment has its own rubric advertised in advance - i.e., marking
scheme - the TAs are basically looking for a submission that is coherent, of the right length,
presented logically, and which shows evidence for careful thought after consultation with one
or more reference sources (which should be cited in any reasonable, but consistent, format).
Writing simply and concisely is important in a scientific context.
Finally, the "audience" is critical in any written assignment. For this course, you should target
your submissions to a "peer audience"; that is, to an individual with your academic
background, interest and experience but who has not yet taken this course.
The deadline for the Final Submission by one of the Group Coordinators in Word or PDF
format is noon Wed 01 April, 2020. Note that the Milestones discussed above must also be
met in order to achieve full marks in this GA.
Penalties: Failure to submit to the Group Forum on time with Milestone #1, #2 or #3 will incur a
5% penalty each to the designated submitters. For example, if the Scribe fails to report the
Roles of the group members, they alone will lose the 5%. Failure to submit to the Group Forum
on time with the Activity Summary will incur a 10% penalty to the designated submitter.
Note: no late submissions are permitted for uploading the assignment to the course website
without significant penalty (-10% per hour).