Education & Public Outreach

Teaching Tomorrow’s Explorers


Enhancing Education

Leadership team:  S.K. Boonstra (lead)  S. Semken  C. Oliver  A. Anbar

Our education and outreach programs include a dynamic informal education effort built on the success of ASU's Mars Education Program. We are also infusing astrobiology into a new formal education B.A.E. in Secondary Earth & Space Science Education, in collaboration with the College of Teacher Education and Leadership, and the new B.S. program in Earth & Space Exploration.

In formal education, ASU Team members were heavily involved in developing a new Astrobiology curricular track in the B.S. program in the School of Earth & Space Exploration. The degree “B.S. in Earth & Space Exploration with Astrobiology Concentration” will be offered beginning in 2010, in parallel with concentrations in Geological Sciences and Astronomy/Astrophysics. We expect that this exciting but academically demanding program will attract strong students to the field. In another formal curricular effort, PI Anbar began to develop the curriculum for a new course, Habitable Worlds, to be offered to freshman non-STEM students beginning in Fall, 2010. This course will also be part of the curriculum of a new B.A. program in Earth & Space Studies that will be offered in the School of Earth & Space Exploration.

In informal education, our initial emphasis was to leverage existing EPO efforts at ASU, particularly in the Mars Exploration Program. This collaboration enabled us to reach ~ 150 K-12 educators by joining a pair of previously planned workshops. Of note, we were able to integrate a unique astronomically oriented astrobiology curricular module developed by collaborator Patrick Young. We expect to continue such efforts. Additionally, during summer, 2009, co-I Wendy Taylor joined the Yellowstone National Park field expedition in order to begin to collect imagery and video for a “virtual reality field trip” that we intend to produce in future years.

In outreach, ASU Team members engaged in a wide range of activities, across a range of scales. Of special note was the involvement of many ASU Team members in the Origins Symposium at ASU in early April, 2009, organized by collaborator Lawrence Krauss, who heads the Origins Initiative at ASU. This event involved ~ 70 exceptional scholars from around the world, including several Nobel Laureates, engaged in symposia for the general public as well as technical sessions. ASU Team members were active in these sessions and as part of the organizing committee. An outreach highlight was a broadcast of NPR’s Science Friday from the ASU campus. Half of this program, devoted to astrobiology, consisted of a panel discussion with ASU Team PI Anbar and collaborator Paul Davies, together with former NAI Director Baruch Blumberg and noted astrobiologist Peter Ward.

Interested in graduate studies in astrobiology?  Click here.