Graduate astrobiology course for science educators at Abington

One of the joys and challenges of teaching is the process of developing activities for students. This summer, Penn State Abington will offer science educators the opportunity to explore the world of astrobiology while creating engaging projects for their classrooms.

According to Ann Schmiedekamp, professor of physics at Abington campus, “We will provide teachers with strategies to address questions such as: Is there life beyond our planet? How would we know if there is life out there? We will explore microbial versus complex life.”

Schmiedekamp and Kathy Fadigan, assistant professor of science education at Abington campus, are experienced scientists and educators who will lead the weeklong program, which begins Aug. 6.

Among the topics science educators will explore are the detection of planets around stars other than the sun, conditions for the support of life elsewhere in our solar system, and extreme forms of life on Earth.

“As newer discoveries are made, they cross the lines of science so this is an interdisciplinary course that covers relevant aspects of astronomy, biology and geology,” she said. “We will include a variety of inquiry-based activities.”

Educators who successfully complete SCIED 497: Astrobiology for Educators, including the required pre-workshop assignments, will receive two graduate credits. For more information, go to or email Schmiedekamp at [email protected] or Fadigan at [email protected].