AAS 197, January 2001
Session 54. Education and Public Outreach
Joint Display, Tuesday, January 9, 2001, 9:30am-7:00pm, Exhibit Hall

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[54.15] Astrobiology Education and Outreach: A ``Life In the Cosmos" Seminar Course and an Astrobiology Society at UCLA

G. Schultz (University of California, Berkeley)

This presentation will outline two unique, related activities in astrobiology education and outreach: a seminar course on "Life In the Cosmos" and an Astrobiology Society, each of which sprung up at UCLA in 1999.

The "Life In the Cosmos" seminar, for first-year general education students, looked at a variety of issues surrounding the questions of "what are the prospects for life elsewhere in the universe?" and "how do we search for evidence of such life?" The extraterrestrial life debate was studied from different angles, including historical and cultural perspectives as well as the current scientific approaches within the emerging interdisciplinary field of astrobiology. The seminar course was very student-centered, with lecturing minimized and active learning a key objective. The conference poster will include detailed course materials/resources developed for the seminar (and sharable with interested individuals), including (a) the two-page syllabus outlining major subjects, course objectives, grading, books, etc., (b) two lists of available materials for student research, including 45 books put on library reserve (many after getting them added to the UCLA collection) and 74 articles from periodicals or conference proceedings, (c) a survey/assignment given the first week, to assess student backgrounds, interests, etc., (d) a table of course activities and assignments, and (e) two detailed sets of guidelines, for group presentations on major subjects, and for (individual) papers and presentations on special topics.

Largely inspired by the above seminar course and UCLA's role in the NASA Astrobiology Institute, a student-oriented Astrobiology Society has been founded and continued to be led at UCLA by two "Life in the Cosmos" students, Laurel Methot and Jason Finley, with ongoing mentorship from the present author. The UCLA Astrobiology Society website (URL below) has additional, up-to-date information. Encouraging and developing similar efforts elsewhere provides a rich opportunity for further science education and outreach.

If you would like more information about this abstract, please follow the link to http://www.studentgroups.ucla.edu/abs/. This link was provided by the author. When you follow it, you will leave the Web site for this meeting; to return, you should use the Back comand on your browser.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: schultz@ssl.berkeley.edu

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