2011 Annual Science Report

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Reporting  |  SEP 2010 – AUG 2011

EPO Activity: Astrobiology Teachers Academy

Project Progress

The New York Center for Astrobiology hosted its third annual Astrobiology Teachers Academy (ATA) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on August 1-4, 2011. The goal of the ATA is to inspire, engage, and assist high school science teachers to infuse Astrobiology themes and content into existing science curricula aligned with New York State learning standards. The 4-day Academy involved 10 high school science teachers from New York State and Connecticut, who had been competitively selected following an application process modeled after SETI’s highly successful ASSET program (Astrobiology Summer Science Experience for Teachers). In addition, the ATA also involved 5 teachers from the previous year’s ATA who had been exemplary in their efforts over the intervening year. Their talents, experience, and enthusiasm was demonstrated by their presentations and mentoring of the new class of teachers. All of the local NAI-funded scientists from RPI and UAlbany contributed to this Academy during its entire 4-day program through formal presentations and discussions with teachers in developing learning modules. Of great importance in the organization and operation of the ATA was the involvement by the professional educational consultants from the Association for the Cooperative Advancement of Science and Education (ACASE). Information gained from their assessments of the prior two academies resulted in a stronger program that has led to sustained contact with the teachers for guiding and following their progress in bringing Astrobiology learning-modules to their science classes.

Meetings with the high school science teachers are ongoing in order to maintain momentum and continuity. An augmentation grant was awarded by NAI in 2010/11 to sustain this activity.

High school science teachers and NAI team members who participated in the Astrobiology Teachers Academy, August 1-4, 2011 at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.