Montana State University
Astrobiology Biogeocatalysis Research Center > Public Outreach and Education

Astrobiology Biogeocatalysis Research Center

P.O. Box 173142
221 Chem/Biochem Bldg
Montana State University
Bozeman, MT 59717

Tel: (406) 994-7039
Fax: (406) 994-1975

ABRC Public Outreach and Education

MSSE ClassABRC is committed to sharing our work and its impact with the people of Montana and beyond, through formal and informal education; public outreach; and communications to many different audiences.

Our outreach and education activities are strengthened by many factors, including MSU's proximity to Yellowstone National Park, the expertise and experience of our faculty and close partners, the outstanding commitment from our MSU students to share their work with the public, and a rich network of partners, including the Montana Library Association, Museum of the Rockies, Space Public Outreach Team and and Hopa Mountain. We also work closely with the other teams from the NASA Astrobiology Institute.


Yellowstone ABCs
This three-part lesson ties together the concepts of pH, Yellowstone extremophiles, and the search for life beyond the Earth. In part one, students conduct a laboratory activity in which they test several substances to determine pH. In part 2, students plot the pH values of Yellowstone National Park thermal features on a pH scale, then learn about extremophiles and the types of environments in which they are found. In part 3, a brief reading connects the concepts learned in parts 1 and 2 and expands on this content.Mars and Europa are discussed as possible sites where extraterrestrial life may be found. Lastly, an exit quiz assesses student knowledge of the lesson and its major themes.

Science of the Springs
A guidebook to Yellowstone astrobiology sites. Grades 6-12.
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The Search for the Origin of Life
The Search for the Origin of Life takes a personal look at scientists around the United States working with the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) to understand the origin of life. Travel with them to some of our planet Earth's most extreme environments — from the frozen glaciers of the Canadian Rockies, to the inhospitable thermal springs of Yellowstone National Park, and to mysterious caves in Italy.
See all "The Search for the Origin of Life" resources

Life is All Around Us
Book designed to help children aged 3 through 8 understand the most basic concept of astrobiology.
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Buckets of Planets
In this activity, children analyze descriptions of planets and decide which one is most likely to support life. They then search for microbial life by digging through buckets representing the planets. This can be a short demo or a longer in-depth activity. Ages 5 to adult.

Planet in a Bottle / Extreme Planet Project
In this activity, students learn the basic principles behind the Goldilocks zone, extremophiles, and astrobiology through a reading, two experiments, and a project. In part one, students conduct experiments on three simulated planets in bottles and collect data on each planet’s suitability for life. In part two, students build their own simulated planet and explore changes variables to make planets more or less hospitable to life. Lastly, students can design their own planet using NASA web resources then create an extremophile that would live on the planet. Grades 5-12.

Drake Equation
Students estimate the number of intelligent civilizations in our Milky Way by using observations and predictions based on NASA data. Grades 6-12.

Astrobiology Short Course
This interactive course is designed to give you an introduction to Astrobiology that you can work through at your own pace and return to at any time. Designed for upper elementary and middle school teachers, this course also contains relevant information and resources for formal and informal educators working with other age groups. The course consists of four units covering topics such as life, DNA, evolution, and our solar system. GO TO THE COURSE >>