Lesson Title: Habitable Zones
Students explore some of the reasons to think extraterrestrial life is possible by varying the distance from the sun, studying organisms living under extreme conditions on Earth and investigating extreme temperature effects on metabolism.
• Experiment with gas production of yeast at different temperatures.
• Take, record and plot data from an experiment.
• Discuss extreme temperature environments on Earth and Mars.
• Observe the relationship between temperature and metabolism.
• Explore the effect of distance from the sun on a planet's average surface temperature.
• Extract key information from a reading.
• Draw conclusions and make inferences when creating sets.
• Understand extremophiles as analogs for extraterrestrial life.
• Debate the ethics of sending earth life to another world.
Lesson Activities and Sequence
The lesson activities are extracted from three educational resources:
- NASA JSC Astrobiology: Fingerprints of Life
It's Just Right, pages 1–5
Students will put granules of yeast and sugar into containers. By varying the temperature of the water added and recording the amount of gas as demonstrated by the balloon inflation diameters, the students observe the relationship between temperature and metabolism.
Keywords: temperature, metabolism, gas
- Astrobiology in your classroom: Life on Earth… and elsewhere?
Activity 4: What can life tolerate? pages 37–48
Students read about extremophiles, answer questions and then play the card game reinforcing the concepts presented.
- The Sun's Habitable Zone
Life in Space: Part 2 Build Your Own Planet -- Planet Temperature Calculator
This website provides a way for students to build a planet by changing the variables. Each planet received a rating of cold, hot or habitable based on the data entered by the students. Four characteristics are used: the mass of the star the planet is orbiting, the distance of the planet from the star, the bond albedo of the planet and the greenhouse effect of the planet's atmosphere.
Keywords: star mass, bond albedo, distance from star, greenhouse effect of atmosphere
National Science Education Standards, NSTA
Science as Inquiry
• Understanding of scientific concepts.
• Skills necessary to become independent inquirers about the natural world.
• The dispositions to use the skills, abilities and attitudes associated with science.
• Organisms and environments.
• Structure and function in living systems.
• Diversity and adaptations of organisms.
Earth and Space Science
• Structure of the earth system.
• Earth in the solar system.
Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
• Types of resources.
• Changes in environments.
• Populations, resources and environments
• Risks and benefits.
ISTE NETS and Performance Indicators for Students, ISTE
Creativity and Innovation
• Use models and simulations to explore complex systems and issues.
• Locate, organize, analyze, evaluate, synthesize and ethically use information from a variety of sources and media.