3. Testing for Life - Assessment


  1. Collect student notebooks with data tables and conclusion questions.
  2. Revisit the characteristics of life list from the Is It Alive? activity. Revise the criteria as necessary.
  3. Have students propose a method for testing for life on another planet. For instance, how could you equip a Mars rover with the tools necessary for testing for organic molecules. What tests would you include and why?

Going Further

  1. Conduct tests for lipids. The simplest lipid test involves placing a drop of the test substance on a piece of brown paper bag from a grocery store. If the test substance contains lipids, the paper bag near the spot will become translucent and allow light to shine through. The greater the lipid content, the larger the translucent spot will be. If there are no lipids, the substance will evaporate and the paper bag will remain opaque. Interesting substances to try include cooking oil, whole milk, salad dressing, hand moisturizer, etc.
  2. Test “Martian” soils for signs of life. See Life on Mars Project.