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2010 Annual Science Report

Arizona State University Reporting  |  SEP 2009 – AUG 2010

EPO Activity: Education and Public Outreach - Task 2 - Formal Education

Project Progress

We have further leveraged NAI Formal Education activities and resources by collaborating with the American Geological Institute (AGI) on a successful proposal to NASA titled NASA Triad: A Triangulated Program to Promote NASA STEM Education Nationwide. This is a three-pronged project to promote current NASA Earth science, technology, engineering, and mathematics research to grade 6-12 teachers and students nationwide, through (1) establishment of a national professional development network of lead teachers and an online teacher professional development handbook of NASA STEM content for use in workshops; (2) direct incorporation of NASA STEM content into AGI’s nationally distributed middle-school (Investigating Earth Systems) and high-school (EarthComm) curricula; and (3) promotion of these new resources and NASA research through AGI’s myriad national outreach programs (including Earth Science Week,, Earth magazine) and ASU SESE’s outreach activities, including those under the auspices of the NAI program. The lead PI (Semken) and two of the co-PIs (Anbar and Taylor) on the Triad project are also NAI co-PIs at ASU, ensuring close coordination between the two projects.

We are also using astrobiology as the central theme of a new science course being developed for non-science majors at ASU, “Habitable Worlds”. This course, spearheaded by Anbar, surveys key concepts in the natural sciences that determine the distribution of Earth-like planets, life and intelligent civilizations in the Universe. It uses the Drake Equation as an organizing concept. The course is intended for students who are motivated by this profound topic to understand what makes the Earth – or any planet – conducive to supporting life. The target audience includes students studying for BA degrees, including majors in the new BA in Earth & Environmental Studies in ASU’s School of Earth & Space Exploration, as well as students training to be K-12 teachers. The course is expected to eventually carry laboratory science credit for these students, using exploration-driven online activities as a centerpiece. However, Habitable Worlds is also a valuable elective for students studying for BS degrees because it shows how the natural science disciplines are applied and integrated in pursuit of questions at the frontier of knowledge. This perspective is unusual in introductory science courses at the undergraduate level. During the reporting period, this course was conceptualized and outlined in preparation for a pilot offering in Fall, 2010, in collaboration with staff from ASU Online. Additionally, funding to develop online laboratory exercises was sought via a proposal to the NSF Transforming Undergraduate Education in STEM (TUES) program (PIs: Anbar and Semken).