The Astrobiology Summer Science Experience for Teachers (ASSET) at the SETI Institute

Grant #: EDUC210-0012
Senior Scientist: Lori Fenton

We propose to continue the Astrobiology Summer Science Experience for Teachers (ASSET) at San Francisco State University, California Academy of Sciences, Golden Gate National Park Crissy Field, and the SETI Institute. First held in 2004, ASSET is an on-going, exemplary professional development workshop aligned with NSES Professional Development, Content and Teaching Standards. It blends science content and pedagogy with leadership skills development. ASSET is 6 days of instruction and practice that parallel 6 astrobiology curriculum modules. The workshop offers 3 graduate science education credits (participants pay tuition), which requires the extended schedule. The ASSET workshop is intense and exciting, interactive and content rich, with presentations by leading astrobiology researchers from the SETI Institute, NASA, and the California Academy of Sciences. Scientists present the latest in astrobiology research on the origin of life on Earth, the extreme conditions in which life exists, evolution of life including humans, Mars exploration, the formation of planetary systems around Sun-like stars, and the search for life in the universe. The workshop features a combination of cutting edge science, inquiry-based teaching and learning, and leadership skills development. Participants receive the entire Voyages Through Time curriculum and complementary astrobiology materials developed by NASA's Astrobiology Institute and other NASA Mission materials for use in their classrooms. 

Voyages Through Time (VTT) is a standards-based integrated high school science curriculum, delivered on CD-ROMs. VTT consists of six modules: Cosmic Evolution, Planetary Evolution, Origin of Life, Evolution of Life, Hominid Evolution, and Evolution of Technology. Together these modules comprise a yearlong, integrated science course; or they may be used individually in discipline-specific courses. Each module includes a database activity, an image library, videos, detailed lesson plans, and assessment materials. The teachers have a commitment from their respective administrators to implement some or all the curriculum, and to complete outreach activities. Teachers' travel expenses, room and board and workshop materials are funded by this Education Supplement, other NASA programs, and private donations. Teachers receive a small stipend upon completion of their two outreach activities. 

PI Fenton will give one of the invited science talks during the workshop, and will be available for additional discussion throughout the week. The PIs planetary geology research is integral to astrobiology and the workshop themes. PI Phillips will review and advise the EPO team on the workshop. 

ASSET contributes to the NASA Education Portfolio Objectives; 2.1 Educator Professional Development Short Term Duration and 2.3 Curricular Support Materials. ASSET is a short duration professional development workshop that employs NASA Kepler and NASA SOFIA EPO materials as well as NASA supported VTT curriculum; teachers are sustained through follow-on communications and support for outreach.