South Korean High School Students Learn about Astrobiology in Specially Designed Workshop

Mason News July 23, 2012

By Colleen N. Wilson

South Korea takes science programs and education very seriously, and for young high school students, scientists are like rock stars, according to Mike Summers, director of the School of Physics, Astronomy and Computational Sciences.

For 25 gifted and talented 10th-graders from Daegu Science High School in South Korea, their week-long trip to Mason this summer provided a chance to meet some of their science idols, tour NASA facilities and work on a project to design a mission to space.

Professor Michael Summers discusses a concept with visiting South Korean students. During the week-long program, the students were tasked to design and propose a mission to search for life beyond Earth. Photo courtesy of Michael Summers 

Summers, who has worked with NASA to help plan and design space missions, is teaching a workshop in astrobiology to the high school students based on the ASTR 301 Astrobiology class he teaches to Mason students during the academic year.

“What’s special about astrobiology is that it’s approached much differently than how we usually teach science,” says Summers. “Traditional education artificially breaks science up into subcategories like chemistry, physics and math. Astrobiology is a natural integration of …