Exploring Astrobiology and the Mars Science Laboratory Mission
On October 15-16, 2012, 21 librarians and other informal science education staff from across the US took part in a NASA space science training at the La Vista Public Library in La Vista, NE. The training was supported by the ChemCam instrument onboard the Curiosity rover and the NASA Astrobiology Institute. The training was designed to enable out-of-school program providers to bring the science of Mars astrobiology to their communities.
NASA scientists and Education and Public Outreach staff from the Lunar and Planetary Institute shared space science information, resources, hands-on activities, and demonstrations designed to bring NASA science to the participants’ communities.
This training prepared librarians and other informal educators to engage and inspire children ages 8-13 about planetary science – particularly Mars exploration and the search for life beyond Earth.
During the two day training, participants:
• Learned about the Martian environment and Mars astrobiology, with a special look at NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission, and in particular the ChemCam instrument.
• Interacted with an NASA Astrobiology Institute researcher involved with efforts to better understand how life originated on Earth and possibly beyond.
• Interacted with MSL scientists.
• Undertook hands-on activities designed specifically for youth ages 8-13 in the out-of-school learning environment.
• Participated in a night sky viewing event with the Omaha Astronomical Society.
• Formed partnerships with other community institutions to coordinate a celebration of Mars exploration and the search for life beyond Earth through their programs.