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Suggested Approach to the Mars Analog Challenge
Here is our suggested approach to conducting the Mars Analog Challenge with your students. This outline is intended to provide you a framework from which to work. Each class setting is different, so we welcome modifications and creativity, and we encourage you to share “best practices” that have worked well for you so that we can pass your ideas along to fellow teachers. Enjoy!
SET THE STAGE: As soon as you finish assigning student IDs and implementing the Pre-Challenge Student Survey (see Welcome letter), familiarize your students with the purpose of the Mars Analog Challenge by exposing them to important background information.
DIVIDE AND CONQUER: Divide your class into five science/engineering teams—one team for each concept. The idea is for each team to design solutions within their concept area that complement the other teams’ solutions and concept areas. For example, the team focusing on science/instrumentation should design tools that will complement the gloves that may be designed by the protection/clothing team—each group should consider the size of the tools and the bulk of the fabric.
NOTE: If you are working with a small class or a single student, then you may choose to focus on only ONE of the five concepts.
KICKOFF EVENT OCTOBER 13: This web chat or webcast will kick-start the Challenge and will complement the pre-Challenge discussions you have had with your students. Students will “meet the experts” and will have the opportunity to ask them questions.
PRELIMINARY DESIGN AND PEER FEEDBACK: Have your students work in their teams and brainstorm preliminary design ideas. Once each team completes a design, bring the class together for team mini-presentations. Each team will describe or “present” their ideas to the rest of the class and acquire peer feedback. This is the perfect time for teams to identify “conflicts” between their designs. For example, will the design created by the “Assistance” team mesh with the “Transportation” team’s ideas? Remind your students that even though their team is specializing in a particular concept, they must continue to look at the whole picture and envision each team’s ideas working together in one environment. Upon discussing ideas with and soliciting feedback from the class, teams should fine-tune their initial design into a preliminary design to be submitted for scientific review.
PRELIMINARY DESIGN AND SCIENTIST FEEDBACK: Preliminary designs must be submitted on or before October 31. These designs will be posted on the web, and NASA scientists will review them and reply with feedback online regarding the design’s strengths and weaknesses. This feedback will be provided during the first weeks of November.
FINAL DESIGN SUBMISSION: Teams will refine their preliminary designs into a final design based on the scientists’ feedback they received. Final designs must be submitted on or before November 21 and will be posted on the web. Final designs should be submitted as follows:
NOTE: Some pictures may be posted on the web or used in a
summary report to highlight student ideas and work. Therefore,
if student faces are clearly visible in the pictures you send, then
NASA will require that you complete a release form for those students. This
only applies to identifiable “face shots”; pictures containing
profiles, backs of student heads, or pictures only showing the
project and not the student(s) will not require a release form. A
release form is available in .pdf format.
CLASS-WIDE PRESENTATION: Gather your teams together to conduct an all-inclusive presentation to their school or grade level. This activity will allow your students to see the “big picture” as they demonstrate to their peers how their five designs work and how they also complement and support one another. Although NASA will not be directly participating in this activity, we feel it is a key component that demonstrates how scientists, researchers, and engineers ultimately work together to conduct exploration missions.
GRAND FINALE WEBCAST: A final webcast will be hosted on December 6, in which final designs will be posted and discussed by NASA personnel. This interactive, culminating event will allow your students to learn about the ideas submitted by other classrooms around the world as well as enjoy the spotlight as their design is presented.
GIVE US FEEDBACK! After the final web cast, have your students return to the computer to complete the Post-Challenge Student Survey/Reaction Questionnaire. You, the teacher, will also need to complete the online Teacher Reaction Questionnaire. These feedback forms allow us to learn which aspects of the Challenge students enjoy most as well as identify ways to make future Challenges more useful to your classroom curriculum and environment.
Thank you for participating in the Here Today; Gone to Mars Challenge. We hope this information helps guide you through the Challenge process; however, if you have an approach that works better for you, then please share. We welcome “best practices” to pass along to other participants.
NASA Official: Mark León
Last Updated: May 2005
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