How Science REALLY Gets Done
All web seminar participants use online tools that allow them to mark-up presenter's slides or share desktop applications in addition to engaging in chat with others online and answering poll questions

This Web Seminar was developed in collaboration with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and Arizona State University’s (ASU) Mars Education Program. The event took place on October 16, 2007, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., Eastern Time. The presenter was Dr. Phil Christensen, Principal Investigator for the 2001 Mars Odyssey Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) instrument, and the Thermal Emission System (TES) instrument on Mars Global Surveyor. Dr. Christensen talked about how scientists approach complex problems, and how the scientific method is used within this context.

Dr. Christensen used his own experiences and studies to convey to the audience the difficulty of solving science problems. He also shared instances where in an attempt to solve a problem, he discovered completely new geologic processes that had not been previously identified, such as geysers of carbon dioxide gas erupting from holes in Mars north polar cap. He also discussed how he was able to design instruments that are being used today to understand surface properties of Mars.

Sixty-four (64) participants were present at the live Web Seminar in addition to the presenter, the moderator, and the NSTA staff. Participating educators represented the states of Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin. One participant attended the program from American Samoa. All participants received a copy of NSTA’s SciGuide: A Close-up Look at the Red Planet.

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

  • "Dr. Christensen was very knowledgeable on the subject, yet easy to listen to
    and follow. The suspense of the first scenario was great."

  • "I loved seeing the pictures of Mars and having someone explain to me what
    I was seeing."

  • "I re-learned that science is a way of thinking and that we must excite our
    students by using hands on, minds on learning situations. Problem based learning fits very well."

  • "It's an excellent time for me since I'm in the South Pacific's
    only morning for me! Great to have joined a wonderful cadre of experts
    sharing their thoughts and expertise on the concepts discussed."

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