March 22-25, 2006
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Demonstrations: Description

Alien Earths Online

Paul Dusenbery, Space Science Institute, USA
James Harold, Space Science Institute, USA

Using instruments in space and on the ground, scientists are learning more about the formation of galaxies, stars, and planets, as well as the conditions necessary for life. So far, we've found more than 150 planets outside our solar system, but we've yet to find evidence of life beyond Earth.

Alien Earths ( is a NASA and NSF funded site to accompany the Alien Earths traveling exhibition. The online exhibit component of the site, scheduled for launch in the summer of 2006, will include a wide variety of interactive activities that build on the themes of the exhibit: the search for planets around other stars, the search for life on those planets, and how our knowledge of Earth informs those searches. Online interactive activities include "SETI Sounds", in which visitors try to identify intelligent versus natural signals, and a "Create a Star" activity, in which visitors cooperate to ignite a star, then observe its evolution over time.

As with other online interactives developed at the Space Science Institute, these pieces will track and store visitor actions into a database that can be mined later for evaluation purposes. Combined with one-on-one interviews by external evaluators, these data allow us to assess the success of the pieces in meeting their goals, both cognitive and affective.

In addition to the online interactives, the site will serve as a dissemination point for the Alien Earths education program, including resources for museum docents, teachers, and parents.

Demonstration: Demonstrations [Close-Up]

Keywords: space, science, exhibits, on-line activities, evaluation, public web site