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Lesson Title: Astrobiology - Life Here and Out There
May 11, 2012

Unit: Life Science - Search for Life

Grade Levels: 4-6

Connection To Curriculum: Science

Teacher Prep Time: 1 hours

Lesson Time Needed: 3.5 hours

Complexity: Moderate

Keywords: journaling, observation, living conditions, definition of life, food, air, temperature, extremes


(Basic materials are listed. Complete list can be found on page 6 in the Astrobiology: Science Learning Activities for Afterschool guide)
White board, chalkboard or pad of chart paper and chalk or markers
Crayons or colored pencils
An outdoor area
3 clear containers
1 container of hot tap water
3 tablespoons of sand
3 teaspoons of sugar
1/2 packet of active dry yeast
1 fizzing antacid tablet, crushed
3 small sheets of paper
1 spoon
1 large sheet of paper
1/4-inch slice of raw potato
1 resealable plastic sandwich bag  

Students explore life here on Earth and utilize that understanding to determine what life is and how to look for it on other planets.

Students will:
• Survey their opinions on the possible existence of alien life and then go on to develop a working definition of what it means to be alive.
• Apply their definitions by taking a field trip to search for living things.
• Determine life by focusing on the observable characteristics of living things.
• Theorize places in the universe that meet the requirements for life.
• Match recently discovered microscopic life forms with the extreme environments in which they thrive.
• Utilize an inquiry-based learning approach that fosters team building and introduces students to careers in astrobiology.

First page of Astrobiology: Life Here and Out There

Lesson Guide
Astrobiology: Life Here and Out There Lesson
[82KB PDF file]



Professional Development Training Modules for This Lesson

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› Inquiry-Based Discussion training module  →
Note: Module may take a few minutes to load.
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› Life Out There training module  →
Note: Module may take a few minutes to load.
download arrow iconDownload Video

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› Help me! I can't access the training module.


Lesson Activities and Sequence
The Astrobiology: Science Learning Activities for Afterschool curriculum guide is divided into eight activities that are described below. Following those activities, Astro-Venture's Biology Training Module will guide students through biology careers needed to study life here on Earth and possible life on other worlds.

  1. Do You Think Aliens Exist?
    Students discuss the possible existence of alien life and then survey the group to record and graph opinions. They use their science journals to write about and illustrate their ideas.
    Keywords: imagination, aliens

  2. Is It Living?
    Students compare a living and a nonliving object to begin defining life. They go outdoors to search for living things.
    Keywords: dead, nonliving

  3. Do the Mystery Samples Contain Life?
    Students explore the properties of three mystery samples and try to find out which one contains life. Then they review what they have learned so far about the characteristics of living things.
    Keywords: yeast, food source, environment, tiny

  4. What Does Life Need?
    Working in small groups, students determine, write about and/or draw what a particular living organism needs to survive.
    Keywords: water, food, air, rest, climate

  5. Where Does Life Live?
    Students use cards and/or computer images to look at some extreme environments and then match the environments with life forms they support. On large sheets of paper, students summarize what they have learned about where life can exist.
    Keywords: extreme environments

  6. Could Life Exist in Other Places in the Solar System?
    In their science journals, students record what they already know about our solar system. Then they examine NASA images of moons, planets and the sun to evaluate them as possible places for life to exist.
    Keywords: solar system

  7. Now What Do You Think About the Possibility of Life in the Universe?
    Students re-examine their own thinking process, they then take a new survey to find out if they have changed their opinions because of new information.
    Keywords: reflection

National Standards:

National Science Education Standards, NSTA
Science as Inquiry
• Understanding of scientific concepts.
• Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry.
• Skills necessary to become independent inquirers about the natural world.
• The dispositions to use the skills, abilities and attitudes associated with science.
Life Science
• Characteristics of organisms.
• Organisms and environments.
• Structure and function in living systems.
• Populations and ecosystems.
• Diversity and adaptations of organisms.
Earth and Space Science
• Structure of the earth system.
Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
• Personal health.
• Types of resources.
• Changes in environments.
• Populations, resources and environments
• Natural hazards
• Science and technology in society.


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Page Last Updated: July 28th, 2013
Page Editor: NASA Administrator