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This is an activity designed to develop a working definition of life. Learners will conduct a simple experiment, looking for signs of life in three different "soil" samples. The experiment introduces children to the difficulty that scientists face in defining life. By observing the soil samples, participants try to determine if any contain signs of life and work to identify, refine, and create a set of characteristics that may be used to identify living versus nonliving things. The activity concludes with the development of a group definition of life. This group definition will be referred to in subsequent activities. It also includes specific tips within each activity for effectively engaging girls in STEM. This is activity 1 in Explore: Life on Mars? that was developed specifically for use in libraries.
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