Lesson Title: Search for Life on Other Worlds -- What is Life and What Does it Need to Live?
These two activities will lay the conceptual groundwork for understanding questions fundamental to the field of astrobiology. The students will examine the nature of life, what it requires, its limits and where it might be found as well as learn important ideas related to the search for extraterrestrial life.
• Compare real and fake or live and dead objects and brainstorm ideas about what life is.
• Refine the definition by playing 20 Questions to identify an object or organism.
• Test the definition by comparing "mystery" samples.
• Grow organisms in 1 of 12 classroom environments and identify common requirements (e.g., water, nutrients and energy).
• Design a mission to identify habitable places by searching for water, nutrients and energy.
Lesson Activities and Sequence
- What is Life?
Compare real and fake -- or live and dead -- objects and brainstorm ideas about what life is. (Page 5)
Keywords: real, dead, fake, alive
- What does life need to live?
Students will create small environments for microbes to thrive to gain a better understanding of life’s needs for water, nutrients and energy. (Page 11)
Keywords: water, nutrients, energy
National Science Education Standards, NSTA
Science as Inquiry
• Understanding of the nature of science.
• Skills necessary to become independent inquirers about the natural world.
• Characteristics of organisms.
• Organisms and environments.