alexa Hands-on Space Experiments: Out-of-School Astrobiology Activities at the University of Rome Tor Vergata Daniela Billi1 *, Alessandro Berlingeri2 , Amedeo Balbi2 and Liù M Cat

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Hands-on Space Experiments: Out-of-School Astrobiology Activities at the University of Rome Tor Vergata Daniela Billi1 *, Alessandro Berlingeri2 , Amedeo Balbi2 and Liù M Cat

In the 2014 edition of “Stage a Tor Vergata”, an astrobiology module was organized as a “hands-on” approach to lead motivated and talented high-school students through cutting-edge experiments aimed at testing the limits of terrestrial life outside Earth, the identification of biosignatures for searching life on Mars and the search for planetary systems around other stars. This “hands-on” approach introduced the students to laboratory procedures used to investigate the effects on cyanobacteria of space vacuum and UV radiation as expected in the EXPOSE-R2 mission outside the International Space Station. Students became familiar with techniques used to detect exoplanets and software applications that simulated the output of real observations. Data gathered by comparing pre- and postinternship learning tests showed a gain in the student’s perceived knowledge of astrobiology, while the analysis of the evaluation questionnaire revealed a positive effect. This internship and its future iterations are expected to increase the number of students enrolling in scientific degrees and, possibly, that of student’s chosing to dedicate their career to astrobiology.
 
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