Mars Education: Faster, Better, Cheaper
Thomas W. Becker
Consultant Space Education, 207-4 Enchanted Parkway, Manchester, MO 63021. firstname.lastname@example.org
A combination of unique factors has made public education about Mars possible on a far greater scale than ever before. The (1) Information Superhighway, via the Internet and the swift movement of private information, allows fingertip data at the push of a button. This major factor, together with a broad range of (2) up-to-the-minute relay of continued findings by NASA scientists, and the (3) availability of purchasable, subject-targeted CD-ROM disks, allows daily instruction of space-related technology education at a moment’s notice.
The question of public school adoption of space technology curriculum, however, still remains unanswered. When, and how, can technology education be infused into traditional curriculum given the strength of the education community’s steadfast resistance to any kind of change? Public education curriculum depends upon local boards of education which adopt state and local guidelines. Only through intense public interest in space technologies will boards of education respond to public demands for the kinds of education the public wants. The key to adopting technology education, then, rests with the leaders of industry, education and government.
The ideal solution to these challenges is the adoption of technology education at the state and national levels, from which new policies will filter down to local levels. Other nations already have begun this pathway - Great Britain, France, Canada, Pakistan, to name a few. Other nations are still caught up in the struggle - Brazil, Mexico, India for example. America will be left in the background if public education leaders continue to ignore the nee for space-related education.
The Center for Independent Study at the University of Missouri, Columbia has made some major breakthroughs in space technology education by distance learning. The Center currently offers two high school space technology course, one of which already is on the World Wide Web - “Studying Planet Earth: The Satellite Connection”. The second (“Aerospace: Crossing the Space Frontier”) will be on the Web shortly, and a third course (“ Adventures In Space Science”) is being written and will be on the Web next year. All three courses carry a one-half unit science credit.