Life on the Edge
Life on the Edge will be a 1,500-sq-ft traveling exhibition to engage museum guests with space, space exploration, and the search for life beyond our home planet through the lens of Earth's extremophiles. The exhibition will explore life forms in extreme, harsh environments on Earth, and how studying these creatures informs the search for extraterrestrial life and habitable environments within and beyond our solar system. This exhibition will provide open-ended challenges and hands-on activities that utilize NASA research and educational materials to inspire elementary-aged youth ages 5-11 and their families. Based in Ithaca, NY, Sciencenter will focus the tour on small, rural museums, including SpectrUM Discovery Area (Missoula, MT), Flathead Reservation (MT), Science Zone (Casper, WY), and Imagination Place Children's Museum (Gadsden, AL). Schools and other community partners of the host museums will be leveraged in presenting family science nights, field trips, and facilitated science programs. These activities will provide additional opportunities for learners to increase their knowledge of core STEM content and science-process skills related to astronomy and astrobiology. In this institutional engagement project, Sciencenter will partner with (1) Cornell University's Department of Astronomy throughout the 5-year grant period to develop the scientific content and to ensure that content remains current and relevant with up-to-date NASA research, and (2) the University of Montana's SpectrUM Discovery Area, who will serve as the STEM outreach hub for the region, including outreach with youth of the Flathead Reservation.
The expected short-term outcomes for youth ages 5-11, after visiting Life on the Edge are (1) 75% of participants will have increased understanding of basic principles of astrobiology and astronomy, along with the breadth of NASA scientific research and missions, and (2) 50% of participants will have increased awareness of career possibilities in STEM, specifically astrobiology, astronomy, and related space sciences.
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