Problem Based Learning 
Quest for Life in Space

by Judy H. Carter, Corning District Library Media Teacher
The problem or situation students will encounter: (same as problem statement)  

The roles students will play:

Pick a role on an Interplanetary Life Force Team. Work in small groups to research and solve the issues of life adaptations and habitats beyond Earth by first, investigating selected life forms and their environments on Earth. Search the planets of our Solar System looking for information to answer your questions.

List of Interplanetary Life Force Team positions:

Students follow these steps carefully as you proceed through this activity:

THE TASK : Your task is to work in teams to gather, organize, analyze, and summarize information you find in a variety of resources about "life in space possibilities" in order to assist the World Life Studies Federation with collection of data and evaluation of the possibility of human kind and other species existing beyond Earth. This needs to happen before the World Life Studies Federation completes its' preparations to send the "Aardvark" into space.

Be sure to log all the sites and sources you use, as to the type of resource used, date, title, author, and organization. After gathering the information, evaluate your teams findings and then organize your data into a Power Point (outline) presentation with graphics, to present in a persuasive discussion to the International Life Studies Committee.

Learning advice: Concentrate on finding answers to your questions. Take notes in short phrases or keywords. Be sure to log all the sites and sources you use and validate the authenticity as well as appropriateness of the information you gather. Collect images as you go, not later. Keep all your team work in the envelope provided to you.

The action students will take:

As team members, students will seek, through research, the characteristics of life forms and the conditions that life forms need in order to survive on planets. They will use Earth as an initial starting point. They will define what type of atmosphere (gases we breathes, weather {heat, cold, other} we tolerate), and food and liquid humans need to survive. They will also study life forms that live by deep sea volcanic vents, in caverns of our earth, and an investigate an actual aardvark's environmental needs.

Students will as a group, list what they know, what they do not know, and what they need to find out about of solar system, the diversity of life forms and environments of planets

Students will study the environments and characteristics of planets in our Solar System and beyond, recording all signs of life wherever they may go. They will study the sun, our moon, moons of other planets, stars, gravity or lack of it, and the structure and form of the universe.

Students will find out about people we have sent into space and how they have traveled and adapted to the conditions of travel.

Students will also look at telescopes, satellites, and any robotic machines used in space studies.

Students will create the Aardvark robot. They may also create a planet and an alien form, listing conditions and atmosphere.

Students will record all findings to questions in a paper data collector, collecting graphics and sounds. They will analyze information as they organize data in an outline type story-board for their power point presentation.

They will conduct an investigation about planets, suns, moons, stars in our solar system and propose a hypothesis, using collected evidence to explain whether life forms exist out in space.

Students will present their findings in a persuasive presentation to a panel from the Earth Federation.

Authentic correspondence (as way of presenting the problem to students:

"Quest for Life Beyond Earth"

Read this editorial from a newspaper carefully .

R o b o t s  S e n t  t o  E x p l o r e  O u r
P l a n e t s  a n d  D e e p  S p a c e
Associated Planet News, Oct. 1998

Editorial: Catherine Aardum, editor

Space exploration is off again as an International team has decided to send robots, called Aardvarks, into space. Yes, it is hoped that these unmanned flights into our Solar System and beyond will bring back information on suitable places in space that mankind can explore and colonize. Maybe other forms of life will be discovered as our Aardvark goes beyond our Solar System and deep into space.

Is it possible that tests conducted on planets will find a suitable place for mankind to live, and a place where different forms of our world can coexist? These are the questions that face scientists and others who are concerned about the environmental changes, food shortages and over-population of our earth. What, if any, life forms will be found on the planets of our Solar System and deep in space in those far off galaxies?

Why would an International exploration team send a (robot) into space? This correspondent wishes all the best to those involved in this scientific exploration. The World Life Studies Federation is watching with expectation as it seeks life beyond Earth

How the student performances will be evaluated:

Students will be evaluated on product at each step of the project. The class and teacher will also work together to develop a rubric to evaluate group research and presentations. How well tasks were completed, timeliness of work, organization of data log, outline/story board, and the teams' teaming efforts as well as the oral and visual power point presentation will all be evaluated.
Content Standards that will be addressed:

Science Grade 6:  Students will conduct an investigation about planets, sun, moons, and stars in our Solar System, describing the physical characteristics of these places and evaluating the environments.  Students will propose a hypothesis to explain from collected evidence.

Language Arts Grade:  Students will identify and use the structural features of, as well as differences among different resources to gain meaning from text.  Students will choose the form of writing that best suits the intended purpose  (review, report, narrative).  Students will develop the topic with supportive details  And use organizational features of electronic text (keyword searches) to locate information.  they will revise writing to improve organization and consistency of ideas.  Students will write research reports that pose relevant questions, support the main idea with facts, details, and examples as well as write a persuasive composition that states a clear position, in support of a proposition or proposal, with organized and relevant evidence.

Information Literacy Standards:  The student who is information literate accesses efficiently and effectively, evaluates critically  and competently, and uses effectively and creatively all information, as determined by the literacy standard indicators for all three standards.  (American Library Association, 1998)

Attachments (found in Student Resources section): Outline Story Broad (Outline Organizer).  My Project Log (Big Six Organizer).  Student Roles and Assignments.  Two worksheets: Create a life form and planet.