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Astrobiology is the study of life and the search for habitable environments beyond Earth. These activities can help you explore the question: Are we alone in the Universe? while introducing concepts in Earth and Life Science.

Aterra 4 Explorer

A create-an-organism activity where students identify the conditions that may support life and the conditions that may be challenging to life in the extreme environment of a fictitious planet. Students then design an organism with features (adaptations) that would allow it to live in the conditions described. Students may work individually or in groups.

Student Worksheet (fillable pdf)

Teacher Guide (pdf)

Planet Descriptions (6 different planets)

Materials for digital whiteboards (ZIP file)

Extremophile Cards

Information about 12 different extremophiles (organisms adapted to live in extreme environments) in all domains of life. A description of the environment and adaptation for each organism is split between 2 print-and-cut cards with matching illustrations.

Extremophile cards

Ideas for use:

Have students choose the cards for which extremophiles might survive in each featured environment as they explore the Life in Extreme Environments interactive map on Learn.Genetics.

Play a matching game with the cards, matching the card with the description of the organism's environment with the card that describes it's adaptation.

Sort the cards by criteria generated by you or the students, such as: type of extreme in environment, type of adaptation, domain of life, etc.

Ask students to choose which organisms they would use to colonize space or a specific planet or moon.

Integrate the cards with the Aterra4 Explorer activity, asking students to choose which organisms might survive in the environment of their given planet.

Astrobiology Assessment Items:

Astrobiology Assessment (fillable pdf)