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2009 Annual Science Report

Carnegie Institution of Washington Reporting  |  JUL 2008 – AUG 2009

EPO Activity: First Light Saturday Science School: Astrobiology for Middle School Students

Project Progress

Carnegie Institution’s First Light Saturday Science School is a program for students in grades 6 through 8 who attend public and public charter schools in the District of Columbia. During the school year, First Light meets for three, 6-week sessions. Astrobiology is used as the overall theme and a different topic is explored in depth for 6 weeks. Students engage in experiential learning in both the laboratory and the field and each session includes an overnight trip. Over the past year, session topics were: 'Our Place in Space’, 'Exploring Ice in the Solar System’ and ’400 Years of Astronomy’. Students learned navigation skills, explored caves, made ice-cream using liquid nitrogen, examined ice cores, constructed telescopes using plumbing parts and much more. Field excursions included sno-tubing, ice-skating, a visit to the National Air and Space Museum to talk directly with astronomers as well as overnight trips for celestial observations, mountaineering and bay and marsh studies. Approximately 20 students attend each session and most students return for multiple sessions throughout their middle school years.