ASGSB 2003 Annual Meeting Abstracts


INCORPORATING ASTROBIOLOGY INTO THE MIDDLE SCHOOL CURRICULUM.  J.S. Thibodeaux1, and C.S. Brown2,31C.W. Stanford Middle School, Hillsborough, NC, 2Kenan Institute for Engineering, Technology & Science and 3Department of Botany, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC.

   In North Carolina, the treatment of space science at the middle school level is generally limited in scope to studies of the physical structure of the solar system and a brief discourse on the history of space flight.  To date, the concept of the conditions for life or the presence of life on other planets has not been an integral part of the study of space in grades 6-8. As part of the North Carolina Standard Course of Study (NC SCOS), science concepts covered in the middle grades include theories concerning the components, patterns, and cycles of the solar system; cell theory; evolutionary theories in organisms and landforms over time; and human body systems. Exploring the Universe Through Astrobiology is an online curriculum that aligns with the NC SCOS and ties these curriculum concepts together under the theme of astrobiology, focusing on the topic of extreme environments and the life forms they contain. Under this program, astrobiology resources are being collected, analyzed and field-tested on the middle school level.  Paralleling NASA’s Astrobiology Roadmap, the curriculum uses age-appropriate activities to make direct comparisons between conditions on Earth that have allowed life to form with conditions that may allow life to develop and survive in extra-terrestrial environments. When completed, this curriculum will be disseminated to teachers throughout the state via the Department of Public Instruction and North Carolina State University.
   The Kenan Fellows Program is a model for enhancing teacher professionalism and leadership by engaging teachers in the creation of novel curricular resources in collaboration with the private sector, the Department of Public Instruction and institutions of higher learning.

(Supported through the Kenan Institute’s Fellowship for Curriculum and Leadership Development at NC State University.)


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