Education and Outreach: March 2007

We're getting AbGradCon back on track! The next installment of AbGradCon (The Astrobiology Graduate Conference) will be held July 14 & 15, 2007 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The goal of AbGradCon is to foster communication and collaboration within the broad astrobiology-related graduate student and postdoc community, and to give early graduate students a chance to practice speaking in a collegial atmosphere. AbGradCon 2007 @ Bioastronomy is being organized in cooperation with the IAU Bioastronomy Symposium being held July 16 - 20, one of the largest astrobiology-related conferences of 2007.

Applications are due May 15, 2007, for NASA's 19th Annual Planetary Science Summer School, which will hold two sessions this summer, July 23-27 and August 6-10, at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

Herb Thier, Ph.D., E/PO lead for NAI's UC Berkeley Team, has recently been selected as a scholar by the Fulbright Senior Specialists Program. Dr. Thier will work with the staff of the Clore Garden of Science, part of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, to design activities for teachers to enhance their field trips to the museum, as well as deliver a short course on science education curriculum development to graduate students at the Department of Science Teaching. Congratulations Herb! [Source: NAI Newsletter]

NAI graduate student Irene Schneider from Jim Kasting's group at Penn State has been selected by NASA/Mars Society as crew physicist for the upcoming expedition 61 for the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS). MDRS Crew 61/Spaceward Bound Crew Five is a two week mission simulation carried out in the dessert of Utah where NASA, in collaboration with The Mars Society, runs simulations for future manned missions to the red planet. There she will be developing and helping implement the first EVA emergency radiation protocols. Congratulations Irene! [Source: NAI Newsletter]

From Hawai'i to Massachusetts, workshops offering hands-on, in-the-field, in-the-lab experiences for teachers are being held this summer by NAI teams and others. The workshops feature cutting edge astrobiology research delivered by scientists and education professionals, as well as inquiry- and standards-based activities ready for the classroom. Many offer stipends and/or education credits. Click here for offerings from NAI's Teams at MBL, Penn State, University of Hawai'i, and the SETI Institute, as well as the Lunar and Planetary Institute. [source: NAI Newsletter]

Continuing the Spaceward Bound series of field expeditions, in March a team of 40 teachers will be traveling to the Mojave Desert and working side-by-side with NASA scientists who search for life in extreme environments that closely approximate what they expect to find on other planets. Why the Mojave -- an inhospitable, sun-drenched spot in the California Desert? This natural setting presents scientists with opportunities to study environments that are analogous to what explorers will find on the Moon and Mars.