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Astrobiology and its Place in Astronomy Education Presented at the Chesapeake Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers held at George Mason.

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Presentation on theme: "Astrobiology and its Place in Astronomy Education Presented at the Chesapeake Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers held at George Mason."— Presentation transcript:

1 Astrobiology and its Place in Astronomy Education Presented at the Chesapeake Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers held at George Mason University April 2002 by Harold Geller, Michael Summers, John Evans, George Taylor, and John Wallin George Mason University Photograph Courtesy of Keith Cowing

2 What Im Going to Talk About zWhat is astrobiology? zThe quest for a textbook zThe quest for laboratory exercises zThe syllabus for a one-semester class zClass reaction zWhat the future may bring zConclusions and recommendations

3 Astrobiology - Say what? zNot so easily defined zProposed mnemonic yODDS xorigin, development, distribution and search for life in the universe zA multidisciplinary science yincorporates physics, astronomy, chemistry, geology and biology

4 In search of a textbook zTextbook yOrigins of Life on the Earth and in the Cosmos by Geoffrey Zubay xa difficult read for non-science majors zDifficult choice ymany good popular books yone astrobiology textbook (Goldsmith/Owen 2001) became available during semester yone publisher releasing text in September 2002 ytalked to another publisher about combining chapters from different texts incorporated into a customized textbook

5 In search of laboratory exercises zUse of astronomy computer experiments yCLEA labs zUse of PASCO equipment for interfacing measurements with computer yhow to detect life by measuring pressure yhow pH measurements can be used zUse of on line simulations yspace station zUse of on line data and images yexamination of surface of Mars

6 The syllabus for Spring 2002 zWeek 1 z Chapter 1 - A Universe of Life z 22 January - Introduction to Class (Taylor) z Taylor Introduction to Class z NO LABS z 24 January - Discuss Chapter 1 and give homework assignment (Geller) z Geller Notes with homework assignment zWeek 2 z Chapter 2 - The Science of Life in the Universe z 29 January - Start Chapter 2 discussion (Taylor/Geller) z Taylor Handout :: Geller Handout z Lab - The Universe is a Really Big Place z 31 January - Finish Chapter 2, start Chapter 3, and give homework assignment (Geller/Taylor) z Taylor Handout :: Geller Handout zWeek 3 z Chapter 3 - The Nature of Life z 5 February - Begin Chapter 3 discussion (Taylor) z Lab - Extremophiles - Designer Genes for a Designer World z 7 February - Finish Chapter 3 and give homework assignment (Taylor) z Taylor Handout for Chapter 3

7 The syllabus II zWeek 4 z Chapter 4 - The Geological History of Earth z 12 February - Begin Chapter 4 discussion (Geller) z Lab - The Evolving Earth - Geologic and Biologic Time z 14 February - Finish Chapter 4 and give homework assignment (Geller) z 2nd Rappateur Considerations :: Evolution and the Myth of Creationism z Homework assignment due on 2/21 is From Chapter 4 Discussion Question #2 (Plate Tectonics and Us) zWeek 5 z Chapter 5 - The Origin and Evolution of Life on Earth z 19 February - Begin Chapter 5 discussion (Taylor) z Lab - Enzymes (catalase) z 21 February - Finish Chapter 5 and give homework assignment (Taylor) z Taylor Notes for Week 5 zWeek 6 z Chapter 6 - The Search for Life in Our Solar System z 26 February - Begin Chapter 6 discussion (Taylor) z Taylor Lecture Slides for Chapter 6 :: Rappateur 3 Considerations z Lab - Spectral Considerations (Computer Lab) z 28 February - Finish Chapter 6 and give homework assignment (Geller)

8 The Syllabus III zWeek 7 z 5 March - Finish Chapter 6 discussion (Geller) z Geller Powerpoint Handouts z Lab - NO LAB THIS WEEK z7 March - MID-TERM EXAMINATION (Taylor/Geller) zSPRING BREAK 10 March - 17 March zWeek 8 z Chapter 7 - Mars z 19 March - Discuss Chapter 7 and give homework assignment (Geller) z Exam #1 Review w/answers z Lab - Geology of Mars Laboratory Exercise z 21 March - Finish Chapter 7 discussion (Geller) zWeek 9 z Chapter 8 - Life in the Outer Solar System z 26 March - Discuss Chapter 8 and give homework assignment (Geller) z Lecture Material on Outer Planet Satellites z Lab - Geologic Features of Outer Planet Satellites z 28 March - Finish Chapter 8 discussion (Geller) z Addressing Formation of Amino Acids in Simulated Deep-Space Environment

9 The Syllabus IV zWeek 10 z Chapter 9 - The Evolution of Habitability z 2 April - Discuss Chapter 9(Taylor) z Rappateur Session (Greenhouse) :: Habitable World Notes :: Habitable Worlds Assignment z Lab - Daisyworld z 4 April - Finish Chapter 9 discussion and give homework assignment(Taylor) zWeek 11 z Chapter 10 - Distant Abodes for Life z 9 April - Discuss Chapter 10 and give homework assignment (Geller) z Lab - NO LAB THIS WEEK z 11 April - Finish Chapter 10 discussion (Geller) zWeek 12 z Chapter 11 - The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence z 16 April - Discuss Chapter 11 and give homework assignment (Geller) z Lab - The Drake Equation z 18 April - Finish Chapter 11 discussion (Geller) zSee

10 A Proposal for a Full Year zHere are the 14 units for the astrobiology curriculum we propose for a full-year: yThe Physics of the Universe yThe Chemistry of the Universe yThe Chemistry of the Solar System yThe Geology and Chemistry of the Earth yClays, Minerals and other Origins of Life on Earth

11 Continuing with Proposed Full-Year Curriculum yOrigins of Cellular Biology on Earth yOrigins of Complex Life on Earth yThe Search for Life in the Solar System yThe Search for Planets in the Universe yThe Search for Habitable Planets yThe Search for Intelligent Life in the Universe yThe Expansion of Life from Earth yThe Engineering of Planets and Life yThe Fate of Life and the Universe

12 Class Reaction Spring 2001 zTextbook was too difficult zStudents felt that it was a rigorous course zStudents liked to have access to materials on web (e.g. syllabus, lecture notes, etc.) zInterdisciplinary nature of course was not a problem zLabs needed more planning to be better

13 What the future may bring zNASA Astrobiology division funding high school curriculum development yTERC zPut in for NSF funds to develop curriculum for undergraduate college course yrejected zBioastronomy conference in Australia, Summer 2002 zMars Odyssey 2001 (public interest)

14 Conclusions and Recommendations zWork with a suitable textbook or write own yGoldsmith and Owen (March 2001) yBennett, Shostak and Jakosky (Sept 2002) zDevelop laboratory experiments that are synchronized with lectures zObtain more support (e.g. lab asst, TAs) zTurf wars warning

15 References yAczel, A. (1998). Probability 1: the book that proves there is life in outer space. New York: Harcourt, Inc. yAdams, F. & Laughlin, G. (1999). The five ages of the universe. New York: The Free Press. yBennett, J., Shostak, S., & Jakosky, B. (2002). Life in the Universe. San Francisco: Addison Wesley. yBligh, D. (2000). What's the use of lectures. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers. yCouper, H. & Henbest, N. (1999). Endless universe: the story of space, time, and the search for life beyond our planet. New York: Covent Garden Press. yCourtillot, V. (1998). Evolutionary catastrophes: the science of mass extinction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. yCrowe, M. (1999). The extraterrestrial life debate Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, Inc. yDavis, B. (1993). Tools for teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers. yDick, S. (1998). Life on other worlds: the 20th-century extraterrestrial life debate. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

16 References yGoldsmith & Owen (2001) The Search for Life in the Universe. 3rd Edition. Sausalito, CA: University Science Books. yGouguenheim, L., McNally, D., & Percy, J. (Eds.). (1998). New trends in astronomy teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. yHobish, M. & Cowing, K. (1999). Astrobiology 101: exploring the living universe. Ad Astra, 11(1), yLewis, J. (1997). Physics and chemistry of the solar system (2nd ed., Rev.). San Diego: Academic Press. yLunine, J. (1999). Earth: evolution of a habitable world. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. yMielczarek, E. & McGrayne, S. (2000). Iron, nature's universal element: why people need iron and animals make magnets. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. yPasachoff, J. & Percy, J. (Eds.). (1990). The teaching of astronomy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. yPickover, C. (1998). The science of aliens. New York: Basic Books. ySchopf, J. (1999). Cradle of life: the discovery of Earth's earliest fossils. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

17 References ySmolin, L. (1997). The life of the cosmos. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ySternglass, E. (1997). Before the big bang: the origins of the universe. New York: Four Walls Eight Windows. yStoll, C. (1999). High tech heretic: why computers don't belong in the classroom and other reflections by a computer contrarian. New York: Doubleday. yTaube, M. (1984). Evolution of matter and energy on a cosmic and planetary scale. New York: Springer-Verlag. yThuan, T. (1993). The birth of the universe: the big bang and after. New York: Harry Abrams, Inc. yTillery, B., Enger, E. & Ross, F. (2000). Integrated science. New York: McGraw-Hill. yWard, P. & Brownlee, D. (2000). Rare Earth: why complex life is uncommon in the universe. New York: Copernicus Springer-Verlag. yYung, Y. & DeMore, W. (1999). Photochemistry of planetary atmospheres. Oxford: Oxford University Press. yZubay, G. (2000). Origins of life on the Earth and in the cosmos (2nd ed., Rev.). New York: Academic Press.

18 Web Sites z ynew home page for Spring 2002 astrobiology course z ythe Astrobiology Web z arsbugs.html ythe electronic astrobiology newsletter z yAd Astra special issue on Astrobiology z yNASA Astrobiology z yThe Astrobiology Institute

19 Acknowledgements zAddison Wesley, Nancy Gee, Heather Weir, Mike Summers, John Evans, Mitch Hobish, Menas Kafatos, John Wallin, NASA, NASA STScI, NASA GSFC, Sten Odenwald, Bob Ehrlich, Bob Ellsworth, Maria Dworzecka, Ian Williams, Indu Satija, Prentice-Hall, American Institute of Physics History Center, the Genesis Mission at NASA JPL, Gerald Soffen, NASA JPL, NASA GSFC, NSSDC, Klaus Biemann, GMU CEOSR and GMU Physics & Astronomy Department.

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