2011 Annual Science Report

Montana State University Reporting  |  SEP 2010 – AUG 2011

EPO Activity: Public Outreach and GK12 Programming

Project Progress

Library Astrobiology Events – ABRC has created an Alien Night party for libraries. Alien Night is a dynamic family event designed to teach the public about astrobiology and the research happing in Montana. ABRC is currently piloting the materials for the event at rural libraries around Montana and collecting evaluation. Early in 2011, the materials will be put on a website so that libraries, schools and informal educators can all access and use them. At Alien Night families will find out the answer to the question “Yellowstone hot springs and aliens: what’s the connection?” At the event children will come face-to-face with some Sea Monkeys and learn about their travels in space, make some microbial Shrinky Dinks, hear a fun alien story, and find out what scientists really think aliens might look like. Kids can also check out some alien-related computer games, and search for their own alien to take home. Alien night has already been hosted at libraries including several on Reservations that serve overwhelmingly Native American populations. Evaluations have been very good so far with the event earning high marks on its educational and entertainment value.

Kidsville: MSU Science Zone – ABRC is a primary sponsor of MSU Science Zone, a monthly science column that is distributed to 50,000 K-5 students and teachers via Kidsville News, a national publication with a regional Montana edition. ABRC faculty contributed features asking questions such as “What is life?”, “How can we find out if aliens exist?” and “Would Mars be a good place to visit?” Each feature explains science in accessible language and includes a hands-on activity to try at home. All past SciZones are archived online along with other youth outreach activities at http://eu.montana.edu/outreach/.

Expanding Your Horizon – ABRC and the Thermal Biology Institute provided a day of workshops at Expanding Your Horizons in Bozeman. This is a nation-wide program held primarily for girls to promote women in science. Graduate student Dana Skorupa and Hot Science coordinator Monica Brelsford provided hands on workshop experiences with extreme life found in Yellowstone’s thermal features. The students were intrigued with microscopic life and their abilities to function in acid and high temperature environments.
Astronomy Day 2011 – Each year ABRC is a major sponsor of MSU’s Astronomy Day at the Museum of the Rockies. Astronomy Day draws nearly 2,000 people from throughout the region, and ABRC’s information booth includes NASA give-aways and hands-on activities, and allows the public to ask questions about searching for life in the Universe.