Inquire, Engage, and Explore: The Mars Student Imaging Project

The sixth seminar in the JPL series, "Inquire, Engage, and Explore: The Mars Student Imaging Project", was held on Tuesday, April 3, 2007, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern time. The presenter was Paige Graff, Assistant Director of the Mars Education and Outreach Program within the Mars Spaceflight Facility, School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University and moderating the program was Brian Grigsby, Assistant Director of the ASU Mars Education and Outreach Program also at Arizona State University. The presentation focused on the Mars Student Imaging Project. In this project students use the THEMIS instrument aboard the Mars Odyssey spacecraft to take images of planet Mars for scientific analysis.

The MSIP program participants use the Mars Odyssey spacecraft for their investigations. Twenty-seven (27) participants were present at the live Web Seminar in addition to the presenter and the NSTA staff. Participating educators represented the states of Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia. One participant attended the program from Canada.

In this presentation Paige Valderrama Graff described the Mars Student Imaging Project, MSIP. This project, designed for middle and high school students, allows participants to use the THEMIS instrument aboard the Mars Odyssey spacecraft, (currently orbiting the planet Mars), to take a photo of the Martian surface and do real science. Students work in teams to craft a proposal indicating the location on Mars (latitude and longitude) that they would like to photograph and the reasons behind their selection. When approved, students analyze their image with the assistance of NASA scientists and their teacher. At the end of the program, all MSIP students and their teacher receive a copy of their image as a memento of their experience. All participants received a copy of NSTA's SciGuide about the Red Planet, grades 5-8.

Here are some comments provided by the participants at the end of the Web Seminar:

  • "As a geologist of 11 years and a current graduate student of earth science education, I am looking for ways to expand my knowledge in other science
    areas. I am excited about using the MSIP program with my future students."
  • "I see this content as a great way to teach the nature of science. It shows
    students how science works by giving them experience as scientists/researchers.
    I am also hoping to convince teachers in my district to use MSIP to excite kids about science."
  • "I will be able to use this information in my curriculum as well as with Science Club and possibly with my Summer School classes. I think that by having my students use 'real' information that they have a hand in collecting, they will be much more engaged."
  • "I am currently planning to use the MSIP program as part of a summer workshop, and possibly a semester outreach program through the science museum where I work."

Thanks to the participants and the presenter for the learning opportunity, the interactions, and a job well done!


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Underwritten by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory