2012 Annual Science Report

Pennsylvania State University Reporting  |  SEP 2011 – AUG 2012

EPO Activity: EPO: K-12 Interactive Astrobiology Events

Project Progress

The Penn State Astrobiology Research Center (PSARC) supported eight K-12 hands-on informal events related to astrobiology in FY 2012; Science-U Astrobiology Camp, AstroFest at Penn State, Exploration Day for the State College Area School District, Bellefonte Family Science Night, WPSU Eventapalooza, ArtsFest Kids Day, Year of the Solar System – Venus Transit, and a special event for the Mars Science Laboratory landing.

Science-U Astrobiology Camp is one of the Penn State Eberly College of Science STEM summer camps for students grades 5-8. Twenty students participated in “Alien AstronoMysteries: Is Anyone Out There?”. The STEM camp was taught by Brendan Mullen with the help of faculty and other graduate students in the Penn State Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics. Students explored the universe in search of possible life in distant galaxies, calculated the probability of encountering alien species in their lifetime, and created worlds and planets that could sustain life light years from Earth.

The other seven events are interactive Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) events targeted for a general public audience celebrating the importance of a strong education with an emphasis on astrobiology concepts. Graduate students and faculty from PSARC organize displays and hands-on activities for K-12 students to inspire them to pursue STEM studies and careers. In 2012 PSARC sponsored astrobiology exhibits and activities relating to exoplanets, icy moons, extreme life, the solar system, telescopes, fossils, and other astrobiology related fields.

Students participate in Penn State’s “Alien AstronoMysteries: Is Anyone Out There?” Science-U STEM summer camp.

Students participate in Penn State’s “Alien AstronoMysteries: Is Anyone Out There?” Science-U STEM summer camp.

PSARC faculty and graduate students participated in Exploration Day for the State College Area School District on Saturday, April 14, 2012. More than 650 K-12 students and their parents participated in the hands-on event where they were able to make their own “Icy World”.