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Just-in-Time Teaching (JiTT) WarmUp Activity: Life on the Moon and Mars

Laura Guertin, Penn State University Delaware County
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1) Based on "Microbial Colony in US..." article, what are Archaea?

2) From the same article, which of the following is NOT evidence to support life on Mars?
a) Mars' subsurface groundwater system
b) ice caps at Mars' polar regions
c) microbes live deep in the Earth
d) historical volcanic activity
e) methanogens can exist with only hydrogen and carbon dioxide

3) Based on "Moon Seen as Haven..." which of the following is NOT evidence to support protolife on the Moon?
a) the Moon has a volcano-tectonic origin
b) permanently shadowed areas of the Moon
c) bursts of gases from the Moon, such as carbon and hydrogen
d) lunar ice have been found to contain bacteria
e) volcanic basins in the Galapagos

4) From the "Moon Seen as Haven..." article, how would you respond to Jack Green's statement that "the possibility of protolife in shadowed areas on the moon justifies additional exploration"?

5) After reading both articles... SO WHAT if we find life on the Moon and Mars? What's the big deal? What will that mean to scientists and society if we find life currently alive on both the Moon and Mars?

Student Responses:

See the Just-in-Time Teaching page on assessment for information and ideas on how to evaluate student responses.

References and Notes:

Articles that students may be assigned to read for this set of questions include (but are not limited to):

Moon Seen as Haven for "Beginnings of Life", National Geographic News, May 2001.

Microbial Colony in U.S. Suggests Life Could Live on Mars, National Geographic News, January 2002.

The use of Just-in-Time Teaching is discussed in detail on the JiTT Starting Point page.

Additional information on JiTT is available in the book:

  • Just-in-Time Teaching: Blending Active Learning with Web Technology. Novak et al., 1999 The authors explain what Just-in-Time Teaching is, its underlying goals and philosophies, and how to implement it. They also provide an extensive section of tested resource materials that can be used in introductory physics courses with the JiTT approach. (citation and description)