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2009 Annual Science Report

Georgia Institute of Technology Reporting  |  JUL 2008 – AUG 2009

EPO Activity: Life on the Edge: Astrobiology

Project Progress

The Georgia Tech Team ran a one-week, non-residential summer enrichment program, Life on the Edge: Astrobiology, for 23 high school students from the Atlanta metro area. The Team recruited two high school students and a Georgia Tech biology undergraduate to help develop and conduct the program, with the intent to foster dissemination into local high school curricula. The program was developed in accordance with Georgia Performance Standards in Biology. The high school teachers were supported by the Georgia Intern-Fellowship for Teachers (GIFT) program. The teachers and the undergraduate student developed the program in the Team member’s laboratories, then completed the evaluation and documentation after the program was ended. Life on the Edge provided the teachers and the Tech undergraduate with the opportunity to learn about astrobiology and about how to develop an Astrobiology summer enrichment program.

The scientific focus of the program was life in extreme environments. The diverse group of high school students (Figure 1) explored the adaptation and survival of various types of extremophiles when exposed to UV radiation and desiccation. They learned basic biology, and scientific method. The participated in hands-on activities, and learned molecular biological techniques such as genomic DNA purification, gel electrophoresis, and Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR).