Elementary School

Welcome to the Classroom Astrobiology Lessons Package

for Elementary School Grades (K-5th grade)

Thank you for your interest in the exciting, engaging Classroom Astrobiology packet to bring science and STEM education alive in your classroom! Please read the lesson overview and history pages. When you are ready to dig in to lesson content, you can download and use the lessons below.  If you read, pilot, or adopt any of the lesson activities, please fill out this survey or leave a comment below and tell me what you think! 

The Classroom Astrobiology lesson package has the potential to increase the number of students gaining exposure to NASA programs and STEM careers. It integrates science, engineering, and technology around a unifying theme, making science more memorable, applicable, and relevant to students. 

This classroom lesson package is narrated around the exciting story of how scientists “hunt” for habitable worlds, organized around the theme, “Are we alone in the universe? And how do we know?”

This will provide a hook to bring hard-hitting science and engineering standards into your classroom in an engaging way that improves students’ science literacy. Each lesson features:

  • Online videos and tools explaining the science of each topic;
  • Popular misconceptions surrounding the science of each topic,
  • A rubric for appropriate activities for easy assessment by the teacher; and  
  • A link between the science topic and current or everyday events.

How to Navigate the Lessons

Below, you will find a document for each that describes activities suitable for a particular elementary grade level, specified at the start of each activity. At the beginning of each lesson, appropriate grade levels, preparation time, lesson time, learning outcomes, and supplemental material, if any, are specified. Some lessons have activities for mixed grade levels. Lessons are part of the Scientific and Engineering Practices Framework that teaches the process of good scientific thinking and methods in the science classroom and in everyday life, too. Lessons are written for educators with narration and instructions provided for facilitation.

Teachers are encouraged to adapt and tailor lessons to their learners' needs and educational settings.

The Drake Equation

So, dig in, starting with the Introductory Lesson, to introduce astrobiology and the Drake Equation! This package will follow the structure of the Drake Equation in the following lessons. The Drake Equation is a string of 7 terms that provide a framework for astrobiologists to organize their estimates of the number of potentially detectable civilizations in our galaxy, or “N.”

Classroom Astrobiology is organized around one lesson topic per term with an 8th introductory lesson. 

The Drake Equation is:

N = R* fp ne fl fi fc L where:

N is the number of communicating civilizations in the galaxy;

R* is the rate of formation of stars in the Milky Way Galaxy;

fis the fraction of stars that have planets around them;

ne is the number of planets per star that are capable of sustaining life;

fl is the fraction of planets in ne where life evolves;

fi is the fraction of fl where intelligent life evolves;

fc is the fraction of fi that develop a communicating civilization; and L the lifetime of a communicating civilization.

Please enjoy these materials. And remember, NASA wants to know what you think of these lessons! Please fill out this quick online survey with for your valued feedback if you read or pilot any material with your learners. 

Lessons for grades K - 5 are currently under construction. Stay tuned for a release soon!

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