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Spaceward Bound Expedition: Australia 2009

photo of Mark Gargano

Mark Gargano
Science, Society & Environment and Technology & Enterprise Coordinator
Year 10 Coordinator, St Joseph's School, Northam WA 6401, Australia
Spaceward Bound Mojave 2008, Arctic 2008, Australia 2009, Australia 2011

I have always found science as a passion, and the teaching of science an art form. I always remember being curious about the world around us and being amazed by little white specks travelling across the night sky, then being told that these are satellites, artificial objects that we put up there. Then to have a piece of NASA hardware crash across WA in 1979 and the very exciting launch of the first Shuttle in 1981, I believe all added up to a future in science.

I endeavour to attach as many practical activities as possible to my classroom theory, with research teams and presentations often occurring, I enjoy seeing the student’s research and develop as an actual scientist.

I believe over time my teaching methodologies have changed, perhaps that is due to students changing a lot in the last 15 or so years, but the importance of making the science real and for students to apply knowledge in a context is the main driving force with my classes. At the Year 10 level, students are rocket designing and launching, rover constructing, examining and analysing impact site data, growing plants under diverse conditions, and conducting missions, with each area having a link to content that should be studied, but as I found having a lot more meaning and relevance as each student can see why we are studying a specific area.

I thoroughly enjoy my work and love working with students investigating science at every opportunity. With my own professional development, I have experienced many great things including touring Kennedy Space Center and EPCOT, being a part of the crew surveying areas suitable for further study on Spaceward Bound Australia 2008 and being selected and then participating in Spaceward Bound Mojave 2008, which included visiting truly inspirational sites such as NASA Ames Research Center, participating in Contact, attending Yuri’s Night in the Bay area, Goldstone Tracking Station, JPL, NASA Dryden Test Center, Edwards AFB, Caltech and just soaking up the science and working with great people who all have the highest level of professional skills and are really just great people to be around.

I am currently completing Post-Graduate studies at the University of Western Australia, examining assessment, measurement and evaluation, all linked to space science of course. Somewhere in there I have a wife and 2 young children, who like to collect different rocks and observing the stars and are generally all space crazy, by choice of course!

My overriding passion is to get our next generation enthused about the Earth and the possibilities beyond. My belief is getting students into the field, participating in an excursion or expedition, observing, recording and reporting on outdoor science, allows a student to see science as real, and make the connection, that this is what scientists do. I know that the next generation of scientists, engineers and explorers are in my classes, just awaiting the right trigger, to release their potential and perhaps the interest that will lead them to future science and the rest of their lives.

Affiliations and associations
Mars Society Australia (MSA)
Science Teachers Association of Western Australia (STAWA)
American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA)
The Planetary Society
Spaceward Bound Alumni- Mojave 2008

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Editor: Linda Conrad
NASA Official: Liza Coe
Last Updated: April 2007
Teachers Contact: Liza Coe
  (Lizabeth.K.Coe@nasa.gov)