Four Corners UFO Study
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 Introduction | Learners | Standards | Resources | Evaluation | Conclusion | Credits | Back to Main Page


This lesson was developed as part of Montezuma County Adult Education Project-Based Learning Series, federally funded through Integrated Learning and Star Schools grants (, 

The purpose of this study is to provide students enrolled in Adult Education and GED programs an alternative to standard workbook learning and rote/recall lessons, while gaining academic skills that result in a meaningful, tangible outcome.  This lesson offers students the opportunity to research the controversial subject of UFO’s in their own “neighborhood”, critically assess a variety of evidence and reporting styles, use creativity in composing a non-verbal message, and create a local UFO oral history on video.


We have designed these activities for the older or adult learner with basic to advanced reading skills.  Reading levels include basic (third to fifth grade) and more advanced (high school) to develop reading ability, critical thinking skills, and correct writing.

The main focus of the lesson is basic language arts, including more advanced critical thinking and expression.  Computer technology, math, and videography are involved to a lesser extent. 

In order to perform most of the activities, students need to have basic knowledge to:                                              GO TO TOP ^        

*  Navigate web sites

*  Read and write at a third grade level or above

*  Perform basic arithmetic (learn to multiply fractions, percentages, and whole integers)

*  Use basic computer graphics, visuals, or sound programs

*  Use a video camera


Curriculum Standards

The following standards are taken from Colorado State Department of Education and Adult Basic Education Skills Assessment Standards.

Reading and Writing

1.      Students read and understand a variety of materials.

2.      Students read, select, and make use of relevant information from a variety of media, reference, and technological sources.

3.      Students write and speak using conventional grammar, usage, sentence structure, punctuation, capitalization, and spelling.

4.      Students apply thinking skills to their reading, writing, speaking, listening, and viewing.                                                          GO TO TOP ^


1.      Students understand the processes of scientific investigation and design, conduct, communicate about, and evaluate such investigations.

3.  Life science: Students know and understand the characteristics and structure of living things, the processes of their life, and how living things interact with each other and their environment.

5.      Students know and understand interrelationships among science, technology, and human activity and how they affect the world.

6.      Students understand that science involves a particular way of knowing and understand common connections among scientific disciplines.  

Mathematics                                                                          GO TO TOP ^

3.      Students use data collection and analysis, statistics, and probability in problem-solving situations and

communicate the reasoning used in solving these problems.

4.      Students use a variety of tools and techniques to measure, apply the results in problem-solving situations, and communicate the reasoning used in solving these problems.

Visual Arts

1.      Students recognize and use visual arts as a form of communication.

2.      Students know and apply visual arts materials, tools, techniques, and processes.


Adult Basic Education Skill Assessment Checklist Standards:

Level One:

1R1 – Recognize and use the following parts of speech: nouns, pronouns, conjunctions, adjectives and verbs.

1R9 – Interpret and follow basic signs and directories

1W6 – Write basic notes

1M10 – Interpret basic charts (compare and contrast)

1M1 – Add, subtract, multiply, and divide whole numbers

1W9 – Write a solution to a functional problem (follow a sequence, summarize)


Level Two:

2M13 - Interpret tables and charts

2M1 – Add, subtract, multiply, and divide fractions and decimals

2M2 – Determine Equivalent fractions, decimals, and percents

2M20 – Demonstrate ability to use a four-function calculator to do basic functions and calculate decimals and percents

2M2 – Determine equivalent fractions, decimals, and percents

2R14 – Read a passage or sample realia to determine fact and opinion

2R16 – Read a passage or sample realia and find the main idea and details

2R17 – Read a passage or sample of realia and summarize

2R18 – Recognize and use Standard English parts of a sentence: nouns, pronouns, verbs, conjunctions, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, comparatives, superlatives, direct and indirect objects.

2W10 – Use appropriate punctuation and capitalization

2W8 – Write basic directions for a process or a task (sequence information)

2W9 – Describe a problem-solving strategy for a given situation


By researching UFO sighting articles from their local area, selecting statements and discussing the presence or absence of evidence and proof, students will develop abilities in analytical reading, comprehension, and expressing the fact and opinion writing style.  Students also apply technology in the creative production of a non-English extraterrestrial message.  Creative problem-solving and teamwork is gained while developing an oral history video as a group.  Students also understand the meaning of an equation and its contributing components.


(UFO Detective Activities)


The lesson is divided into four activities. Each one could expand upon the previous activity or stand alone. Each single activity could probably be accomplished within one or two class periods.  If all activities are done, the project could take up to five or more class periods (depending on the development of the oral history video).



Activity One - Background Reading: Students read a selection of accounts of local UFO sightings, selecting statements from each account that depicts the validity of the event, and write an opinion explaining why that statement is evidence for or against the sighting.


Activity Two - Phone from Home:  Students decide on an overall meaning for a message they would like to convey to extraterrestrials.  Messages are then produced using any graphic, sound or codes appropriate and available on their computers, but not the English language.


Activity Three – Could This Be?:  Students perform a simple mathematical exercise called the Drake Equation to assess the possibility of life in other galaxies.  Students learn to multiply fractions, decimals, percents, and whole numbers to assess probability.                                       GO TO TOP ^


Activity Four – You Saw What??? This portion of the lesson is optional, depending on the time and resources of the group. 

Students may take the knowledge they have gained and use it to develop a brief oral history video of local sightings.  Students and teachers put out the word that they are looking for personal accounts to record.  Resources can include local veterinarians (animal mutilations), internet databases (sightings), and personal accounts.  A public service announcement can also be used on local TV or radio.


With the information recorded, students replay and edit the video using computer programs, adding music and special effects.  The finished product can be shown at a local library, museum, or cultural center.  


Group or Individual?: This lesson involves of the use of both group and individual work.  Reading and writing assignments are to be done on an individual basis.  Extraterrestrial messages may be done individually or as a group, depending on the dynamics of the group. 


To make a successful video, the teacher may review the steps of video production with the students first.  The group may outline jobs for each student to do (videographer, interviewer, recorder, editor, public information person), and then guide the students through their jobs to final production.


Teaching students non-English ways of expressing a major theme or meaning may be a challenge.  If all students doing different projects is daunting, you may decide to choose one type of computer program to use, (have everyone make a sound message, or a digital photo or computer drawing)



Resources Needed

Describe what's needed to implement this lesson. Some of the possibilities:

*  Computers with internet capability, word processing, graphics, and creative programs

*  Video camera (optional…if video is incorporated into the lesson)

*  Video editing program with music or special effects programs

Required websites:                                                       GO TO TOP ^


Support websites:


One teacher can implement this project; additional help can be used during video development if desired.  Field trips are optional, and may be taken to the site of the UFO events.

GO TO TOP ^Evaluation

Refer to the rubric at the end of the student lesson.  You may want to modify the criteria to your classroom type or specific needs.


Almost everyone is curious about UFO’s, especially in their own region.  Even most skeptics will turn an interested ear to the story.  The abundance of UFO information and databases on the internet gives an ample amount of information for student discussion and exploration.  While we may not come to definite conclusions as to the existence of aliens and UFO’s visiting us as an outcome of this lesson, our students will have the opportunity to develop academic skills and creativity while they explore this “infinite” subject!


Credits & References

Donna Chadwick, Aztec Public Library, Aztec, New Mexico

National UFO Reporting Center ( (SETI references and Drake Equation)