1144 Adams Ave., Louisville, CO 80027
The quest for Mars depends on the development of attitudes which deem the mission both possible and desirable, and on the training of personnel who are skilled enough and motivated enough to meet the challenges. Education is critical to achieving both goals, and powerful programs can be implemented at even the earliest levels.
The paper describes a program that was used with second through fifth graders in spring of 1997. All aspects of the endeavor were included, form the microbiology of bacterial life to propulsion systems. Students researched, designed, and created transport ships, shuttles, surface craft, habitats, bases, wind turbines, solar energy experiments, working model greenhouse, sewage treatment systems, orbital trajectories, mission parameters and experiment outlines, spacesuits, and even a remote activated, computer controlled rover made of LEGO. In addition, students created diets, calendars, crew selection criteria and biographies, Martian calendars, a sports page for a Martian newspaper that featured appropriate new events, and musical instruments designed form recycled ship waste materials for the astronauts to entertain themselves with. Their work was compiled and presented to the school and parents in a “Marsfest” event, which also featured a guest presentation by Carter Emmart. Other celebrities in attendance include Larry Esposito and Randy Davis of LASP. As an extension of their studies, the students built “reentry vehicles” for an egg-drop that honored the Pathfinder mission, including a detailed model of the lander and rover. The entire exhibit was generously displayed for the summer in the main lobby of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, where it was viewed by thousands of visitors. A reception for the students was thoughtfully provided by NCAR at which students got to discuss their choices of landing sites with a planetary scientist and also had the opportunity to touch a Martian meteorite.