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Making Time for Astrobiology Outreach: How Teaching English Through Astrobiology in East Africa Led to the Astrobiology E-Mentoring Network and How You Can Get Involved!

Presenter: Heshan "Grasshopper" Illangkoon
When: December 4, 2012 3PM PST

A three month volunteer trip in East Africa to teach in an English language class and start a non-profit micro-finance NGO ( took an interesting turn when an element of astrobiology outreach was introduced. Instead of strictly teaching English, students in the language class were taught English through astrobiology and science. Their curiosity and drive for knowledge increased and even encouraged some students to resume formal schooling through the aid of sponsorship. Upon returning to the United States a year later, this experience was presented at the 2011 Astrobiology Graduate Conference. The collaborative nature of this conference drew five colleagues together to harness the power of astrobiology outreach and to reach a wider, international audience. The result is the eMentoring web-portal for astrobiology S.A.G.A.N. (Social Action for a Grassroots Astrobiology Network – Launched in April 2012, with the support of the NASA Astrobiology Institute and the Carl Sagan Foundation, the S.A.G.A.N. network enables a mentoring relationship to be formed between scientists and students with interests in astrobiology and the space sciences with the goal of fostering interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering & mathematics) field education. The S.A.G.A.N. site contains collaboration tools including group video chat, live streams of astrobiology related seminars & conferences, hosts a weekly book club and monthly salon discussion on the philosophy of science among other topics. If you are an astrobiologist or simply have an interest in the field we invite you to join today!

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