Astrobiology (general)

Astrobiology Curriculum Pilot To Kick-Off Maine STEM Initiative

By Keith Cowing
November 16, 2008

The pilot-test of an NAI-supported curriculum entitled Astrobiology: An Integrated Science Approach will help kick-off the State of Maine’s new Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Initiative. This initiative is the subject of a press conference to be given by Maine’s Governor, The Honorable John E. Baldacci, on November 17th.

The curriculum was developed with significant input from the NAI Ames Team led by Dave Des Marais, who will speak at the press conference. Much of the team’s research in astrobiology is captured in the curriculum.

Providing ninth grade students an interdisciplinary approach to science, this year-long, integrated curriculum covers the broad range of topics encompassed by astrobiology–cosmic and planetary evolution, the origin and evolution of life on Earth, and the potential for habitable worlds elsewhere in the Universe–within the context of science as inquiry.

This project has been a collaborative effort from the start. The curriculum was developed by TERC, an educational non-profit based in Cambridge, MA, with major support from NSF, and additional funds from NAI. Specialists from the Maine Space Grant Consortium and the University of Maine will evaluate the effectiveness of the curriculum in a sample of ten Maine schools. Co-funded by NAI and Lockheed Martin, the pilot evaluation plan will ask if a reform curriculum such as Astrobiology: An Integrated Science Approach engages students, improves their attitudes towards science in general, and promotes their consideration of STEM careers. The evaluation will compare attitudes and interests of students who have been exposed to the curriculum versus those in non-integrated science courses.

For more information about the curriculum, please see:

Source: NAI Newsletter

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