2013 Annual Science Report

Carnegie Institution of Washington Reporting  |  SEP 2012 – AUG 2013

EPO Activity: First Light Saturday Science School

Project Progress

Carnegie Institution’s First Light Saturday Science School is a program for students in grades 6 through 8 who attend public and public charter schools in the District of Columbia. During the school year, First Light meets for three, 6-week terms. Astrobiology is used as the overall theme and a different topic is explored in depth for each 6 week term. Students engage in experiential learning in both the laboratory and the field and each term includes field trips and sometimes an overnight trip. Over the past year, the focus in the three terms was on human survival in space. In the Fall 2012 term, students prepared their own detailed physiological profiles using a range of sensors to measure heart rate, blood pressure, reaction time and much more. In the Winter term, students studied human nutritional needs and analyzed the chemical composition of foods. In the Spring term, students grew plants on a home-made clinostat to examine the potential effects of microgravity on plant growth. Field excursions included trips to the National Air and Space Museum, National Museum of Natural History, Kings Dominion adventure park (to study effects of G-forces) and an overnight camping trip. Approximately 20 students attend each term and most students return for multiple terms throughout their middle school years.

First Light students measure reaction time using home-made devices

First Light students use sensors to measure and record blood pressure