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Photo of Mark Gargano in classroom

Mark Gargano
High School Teacher and Science Coordinator
St Joseph's School
Northam, W. Australia
Education Director Mars Society Australia
Spacewar Bound Mojave 2008

I am have been a secondary educator for around 15 years now and I have been the Science Coordinator (among many other things) at St Joseph's School in Northam, Western Australia (Situated 60 miles to the East of the Western Australian Capital- Perth, on the best side of the country) since 1999.

My interests in Space Science, go back to the early days, sitting outside, doing some evening satellite spotting, then things really got me interested when a rather large piece of NASA hardware landed across Western Australia in 1979. This event, in addition to the hype surrounding the first Shuttle launch in 1981 and spotting Halley’s Comet in 1986, has sparked an interest that continues to this day.

After tertiary studies in Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics Education, bring on teaching in a classroom. I have always ensured that my students have access to the latest and greatest of scientific knowledge. I believe that it is very important for students to not only have the content and the skills to acquire the information, but to also see where all the skills and content can be and is being utilized.

Science is the real world, which includes what is above and beyond us. Over many years, I have been developing Middle School programs that link standard science to a space science theme. These include traditional astronomical observations and monitoring and rocket designing, constructing, launching and data analysis, always a highlight of the academic year.

In more recent times, student projects include areas such as habitat designs, space suit designs and testing, plant growth experiments, robot construction and testing and mission planning, with several Middle School students, publishing and presenting their scientific findings to audiences and delegates at conferences.

As well as enhancing the students views on the relevance of space science, I have been involved for many years at the conference level promoting the importance of this area and activities and research that can be undertaken by High School students that link to the real world.

At all times I endeavour to excite my students in the art of science and hopefully a little bit of this passion rubs off. My area of expertise and education is Middle School, one that I believe is very important and sometimes forgotten in the big education picture. When we look ahead at the next generation of space scientists that will take us to the next frontier and beyond, where will they come from, today’s Middle Schools. Let’s get them to realize this; they are an essential cog in the space generation.

Currently I am enrolled in a Post-Graduate programme and in my ‘spare time’ I am the Education Officer for Mars Society Australia (MSA), and I have been a member of MSA since 2003.  I am involved in many youth development enterprises, until very recently was a very active member of the Australian Army Cadets. The key to all of these activities is to provide as many experiences that may create an interest and lead to further investigations in this area. In addition to this I am also a keen aviation enthusiast and teach components of this at various times, it’s all about connections.

On a personal note I am married with two young children, who don’t have any choice, but to have space toys and be able to identify key features in the night sky. On to Mars!

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Editor: Linda Conrad
NASA Official: Liza Coe
Last Updated:February 2006
Students Contact: Loretta Hidalgo
Teachers Contact: Liza Coe