This document describes how you can put together an aliens party at your library using the resources on the website http://eu.montana.edu/starparty/.
Yellowstone hot springs and aliens: what’s the connection? Come to the alien party at your local library and find out. Come face-to-face with some Sea Monkeys and learn about their travels in space. Make some Shrinky Dinks, hear a fun alien story, and find out what scientists really think aliens might look like. Check out some alien-related computer games, and search for your own alien that you can take home with you. (Note that you may need to edit or rewrite the event description based on what you decide to do.)
Read and familiarize yourself with each of the handout fact/coloring sheets on the website http://eu.montana.edu/starparty/ before the event and have your volunteers do so as well. The important concepts to convey to event participants are all discussed on the sheets.
• Yellowstone and its extremophiles (microbes that live in extreme conditions) are playing an important role in the search for life in the universe.
• Aliens will probably look more like Sea Monkeys (extremophiles) than little green men.
• Life needs water.
• The planets in our solar system where there might be life are the ones that have or have had water.
Pictures of real microbes from Yellowstone National Park to display (from http://eu.montana.edu/starparty/)
Story time — The Aliens are Coming! (or you can substitute it with one you like better from your collection)
• If you use this book please take time after the reading to explain that this is a fun story, but that scientists don’t think aliens will look like they do in the book. Scientists think they will look more like the microbes found in extreme environments on Earth (extremophiles) like the ones in Yellowstone. Tell them aliens will probably look more like Sea Monkeys or the pictures of microbes that you have posted.
Search for aliens — alien plastic figures; and either dirt, ripped newspaper, ice cubes, or Jell-o, etc.
• For the “search for aliens” activity, there are several options for how to do the activity.
Decide how much mess you can handle. One option is to use bowls or containers to represent various planets and moons in our solar system. Have kids analyze clues about which ones might contain life, then let the kids search in the bowls or containers to see if they find aliens. Another option is just to hide the aliens and let kids try to find them. You can either hide the aliens in dirt, ripped up newspaper, or you could try freezing them in ice cubes and having the kids melt the ice cubes with hot water. For more suspense, don’t put an alien in every ice cube. For even more mess, you could try hiding the aliens in dark Jell-o (use food coloring to make the Jell-o opaque). Make sure you reinforce that if we do find life it probably will look like microbes, not little green men.
Sea Monkeys — Sea Monkeys on Mars display, Sea Monkey fact sheet
• Put your Sea Monkeys on Mars kit together about a month before you have this event so your Sea Monkeys can hatch and grow to full size in time for the party. For full effect, don’t put the Sea Monkeys on display until the party.
• Participants can either design and color their own microbe Shrinky Dink or trace one of the designs on the Shrinky Dink info sheet.
• Cut the Shrinky Dink paper into sixths so people only use a small sheet instead of the whole 8 ½ by 11 piece. Your supplies will go much further that way.
• You may want to have people cut out their Shrinky Dink shapes at home before they bake them. That will minimize the mess you have to clean up. You can also let people cut their design out at the library if you wish.
• If people want to use their Shrinky Dink on a key chain or necklace, they need to hole punch it before baking.
• Have people use colored pencils on the rough side of the sheet (not crayons) to color the Shrinky Dinks. People can use sharpie black magic markers to outline or trace their artwork if they wish.