Home » Expedition Mars Teacher’s Guide Outline

Thank you so much for the memorable day yesterday at the CLC! Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the activities planned for us, and meeting Capt. McBride was, by far, the highlight of our day, in addition to having press coverage of our mission. This was my seventh year attending the CLC; it was by far one of, if not, the most impressive missions.

— Edward A., Stanton Middle School

Expedition Mars Teacher’s Guide Outline

Overview:

The Teacher’s Guide will include lessons to support the Challenger Center Mission: Expedition Mars. Teachers will choose a lesson path to follow to allow for maximum flexibility, while still engaging and preparing students for their visit to a Challenger Center. All lessons will include the basic concepts of Mars and expose students to the various roles available during their mission experience. The format will include the Crew Manifest at the end of the sequence of lessons to allow students to gain information about the content included in their roles before making a choice.. Longer sequences will include a general description of the roles being highlighted in each lesson to help students rank the job options available.

Each lesson will include hands – on components and will be mindful of student and teacher choice.

Paths:

1 day – this path will include a general overview of Earth vs. Mars and touch on many general concepts that will be necessary for completing the mission at the Challenger Center. Students will go through the Crew Manifest at the end of this session to ensure everyone is prepared when entering the Challenger Center.

3 day – this path will also use the Earth vs. Mars lesson as an introduction to the unit. Students will learn of each job role, but will not choose a job until the end of day 3. Day 2 will focus on Biology and Physiology, while day 3 will focus on the moon, Phobos, and landing on Mars along with the Crew Manifest.

5 day – the 5 day path allows for maximum impact of concepts taught. Each day will focus on a different concept, while highlighting the roles that focus on the content being taught. These concepts include: planetary science, geology, biology, human physiology, and landing on Mars. The Crew Manifest will be completed at the end of day 5.

Reasoning:

Challenger Center has chosen to format the Teacher’s Guide to include different paths. This allows teachers flexibility and choice when preparing for a mission with their class. Using a path system will ensure all students are prepared and have an adequate overview of basic concepts needed to be successful in their mission. We know that teachers are often pressed for time in their classrooms, and appreciate options and flexibility whenever possible. We also know that classes who are prepared through thoughtful and meaningful lessons are more successful and achieve larger gains from a mission experience. The content in the different paths is designed to deliver as much background knowledge and buy – in for students as possible in the time allotted by the teacher for preparation before visiting a Challenger Center.

Single Day Track

Day 1 Objective: SWBAT explain how characteristics of Mars differ from the characteristics of Earth. Activity: Create class Venn diagram/Four Corners activity
Earth vs. Mars Standards and Skills:

  • Analyze and interpret data to determine similarities and differences in findings. (MS-ESS1-3)
  • The orbits of Earth around the sun and of the moon around Earth, together with the rotation of Earth about an axis between its North and South poles, cause observable patterns. These include day and night; daily changes in the length and direction of shadows; and different positions of the sun, moon, and stars at different times of the day, month, and year. (5-ESS1-2)
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.6.7: Integrate information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words to develop a coherent understanding of a topic or issue.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.6-8.9: Compare and contrast the information gained from experiments, simulations, video, or multimedia sources with that gained from reading a text on the same topic.
Description: In this overview lesson, students will compare properties of Mars to properties of Earth. Topics will include: location in solar system, gravity, length of day, core (lack of ionosphere), weather (temperature, pressure, and storms), communication with earth, surface characteristics (color, water), life on each, moons and the atmosphere. Students will also learn about the different mission roles, select their top three and explain why they would be a good fit.

Three and Five Day Tracks

Day 1 (of 5) Objective: SWBAT compare and contrast characteristics of Mars and Earth. Activity: Create class Venn diagram/Four Corners activity
Earth vs. Mars Standards and Skills:

  • Analyze and interpret data to determine similarities and differences in findings. (MS-ESS1-3)
  • The orbits of Earth around the sun and of the moon around Earth, together with the rotation of Earth about an axis between its North and South poles, cause observable patterns. These include day and night; daily changes in the length and direction of shadows; and different positions of the sun, moon, and stars at different times of the day, month, and year. (5-ESS1-2)
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.6.7: Integrate information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words to develop a coherent understanding of a topic or issue.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.6-8.9: Compare and contrast the information gained from experiments, simulations, video, or multimedia sources with that gained from reading a text on the same topic.
Description:
In this overview lesson, students will compare properties of Mars to properties of Earth. Topics will include: location in solar system, gravity, length of day, core (lack of ionosphere), weather (temperature, pres-sure, and storms), communication with earth, surface characteristics (color, water), life on each, and the atmosphere.
Students will also learn the names of all the roles. Further explanation of roles will come on Day 3.
 Day 2 (of 5) Objective: SWBAT explain how the existence of extremophiles hints at the possibility of life on Mars. Activity:
Extremophile study, matching game
Biology & Physiology Standards and Skills:

  • Construct an explanation based on evidence that describes how genetic variations of traits in a population increase some individuals’ probability of surviving and reproducing in a specific environment (MS-LS4-4).
Description:
This lesson will touch on all aspects of life on Mars. Topics will include: what is needed for life on Mars, evidence of water on Mars, and extremophiles.
(If teaching 3 days, include brief discussion on humans specifically on Mars, specifically why they cannot live on Mars without accommodations.)
Day 3 (of 5) Objective: SWBAT describe how to take off from and land on Mars. Activity:
Cannon demo/game
Landing on Mars/Phobos Standards and Skills:

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.6.7: Integrate information presented in differ-ent media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words to develop a coherent understanding of a topic or issue.
  • The motion of an object is determined by the sum of the forces acting on it; if the total force on the object is not zero, its motion will change. The greater the mass of the object, the greater the force needed to achieve the same change in motion. For any given object, a larger force causes a larger change in motion. (MS-PS2-2)
  • Gravitational forces are always attractive. There is a gravitational force between any two masses, but it is very small except when one or both of the objects have large mass—e.g., Earth and the sun. (MS-PS2-4)
Description:
This lesson will go more in depth about Phobos and why it is a good candidate for exploration. It will also touch on how to land on Mars from Phobos, with an explanation of Newton’s cannon, delta v, and escape velocity.
Students will also go through the crew manifest more in depth. Classes teaching 3 lessons will apply for roles. 5 day classes will learn about advantages and disadvantages of rovers.
Day 4 (of 5) Objective: SWBAT identify and analyze evidence of water on Mars. Activity:
Water race demo, sorting photos of Mars vs Earth
Mars Geology Standards and Skills:

  • In any ecosystem, organisms and populations with similar require-ments for food, water, oxygen, or other resources may compete with each other for limited resources, access to which consequently constrains their growth and reproduction. (MS-LS2-1)
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.6.7: Integrate information presented in differ-ent media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words to develop a coherent understanding of a topic or issue.
Description:
Students will go more in depth on the geology of Mars. Topics will include: why Mars is red, evidence of water on Mars, the lack of tectonic plates, what could be under the surface of Mars.
Day 5 (of 5) Objective: SWBAT use their knowledge of the effects of Mars on humans to design a safe space station to support human life on Mars. Activity:
Design a space station, health on Mars lab
Humans on Mars Standards and Skills:

  • Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved. (3-5-ETS1-3)
Description:
This concluding lesson will discuss human life on Mars. Topics will include: conditions needed for human life, effects of low gravity environments, radiation, and adaptations/accommodations that need to be made for human survival.
Students will apply for their roles.

Optional (Stand Alone) Extension Activity

Day 6 Objective: SWBAT write a position piece on whether or not are worth using for Mars exploration. Activity: Rover game
Rovers on Mars Standards and Skills:
Description:
Students will learn about Mars exploration using rovers, specifically Curiosity. Topics will include: landing on Mars, communicating with a rover, and its ability to gather data.

Lesson References

Activities:

Day 1: Four-corners, put it on a Venn-diagram with partner/group

Day 2: Extremophiles – https://marsed.mars.asu.edu/content/xtreme-o-philes

Day 3: Cannon demo/game

Day 4: Water race – Follow_the_Water.pdf

Day 5: Design your own space suit/space station

http://www.lpi.usra.edu/education/explore/space_health/space_stations/

http://www.lpi.usra.edu/education/explore/space_health/space_stations/jumping_conclusions.pdf

Day 6: Rover Races: https://marsed.mars.asu.edu/sites/default/files/stem_resources/Rover Races 6th – 12th Grade Lesson.pdf