Life at the Limits: Earth, Mars, and Beyond

an educator workshop and fieldtrip


The following activities were either undertaken during the field experience or are recommended for further exploring astrobiology in the classroom. Most are tried and true! Others are more … experimental! If you have activities to recommend, please let us know!



Developing Criteria for Recognizing Life (Soil/Alka-Seltzer Experiment)
From the Fingerprints of Life curriculum


Further Exploration

Origins: How Life Began - learn about the characteristics that define an organism


Hypersaline Activities

Extreme Salinity - Version 1 (Dilution) (pdf) - determine the saline concentration limits at which hypersaline organisms can live by modifying the salinity concentration of several brine samples from a natural hypersaline environment

Extreme Salinity - Verson 2 (Dilution and Concentration) (pdf)

Information and images of some of the organisms you may see can be found at the micro*scope Web site.


Spectrometer Activities

"Seeing” Infrared Light - A Classroom Demonstration - ‘see' infrared light, normally invisible to the human eye, as a continuation of the visible rainbow spectrum

The spectrometers and activity books are available for sale or loan through LPI's Order Department.

Origins: Where are the Aliens? - learn how planetary spectra can be used to search for life on other worlds and analyze a mystery planet's spectrum for potential signs of life


Hot Springs Activities

Temperature Extremes (PDF) - determine the temperature limits at which thermophilic organisms can live by moniroting activity in samples from a natural hydrothermal environment that are exposed to increasingly warm temperatures

Information and images of some of the organisms you may see can be found at the micro*scope Web site.

Testing and Culturing for Life - test for microbial life in soil using turbidity

Fingerprints of Life: It's Just Right - experiment to find a range of tolerance in a simple test with yeast. The yeast cultures are immersed in hot and cold water and activity is measured by balloon inflation.


Planetary Conditions

TERC's Life on Earth … And Elsewhere? - offers activities in which students learn about the requirements for life and contrast these with the conditions on other planetary bodies in our solar system. The curriculum also offers a activity that explores the Drake Equation. Helpful in making planetary connections.


Planetary Processes

Relative Dating of Planetary Surfaces

Making and Mapping Volcanoes

Impact Craters - Holes in the Ground or ImpactCraters

Great Martian Floods

How Does Flowing Water Shape a Surface?

Can You Make Teardrop Shapes Similar to those on Mars?



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