2004 Denver Annual Meeting (November 7–10, 2004)

Paper No. 6
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM


NILES, Andria, Science Department, GateWay Community High School, 108 N. 40th Street, Phoenix, AZ 85034 and KRAFT, Katrien J., Physical Science Department, Mesa Community College, 1833 W. Southern Ave, Mesa, AZ 85202, k.kraft@mail.mc.maricopa.edu

A study was performed during the 2003-04 school year to assess changes in student attitudes toward science after their participation in the Mars Student Imaging Project (MSIP) at Arizona State University (ASU). The MSIP is a standards based education program sponsored by NASA and the Mars education program at ASU. Through MSIP, students ranging from grade 5 through college sophomores work with scientists, mission planners, and educators at ASU’s Mars Space Flight Facility. They acquire an image of Mars using the THEMIS visible wavelength camera on the Mars Odyssey spacecraft and then scientifically assess the image contents. Student teams come to ASU from all over the United States. Over 200 ninth grade students from Corona del Sol High School in Tempe, AZ were surveyed about their attitudes toward their science class. Approximately 60% of the students surveyed participated in the MSIP. The other recipients of the survey were used as a control group. All students were enrolled in the mandatory freshman physical science class. With the advice of a psychologist, we administered the survey. Some of the questions asked them to rank their opinion to statements like, “I look forward to coming to science class,” or, “I enjoy participating in science class.” Sixteen different questions were asked focusing on four basic categories; attitudes toward their science class, interest in their science class, comfort with their ability to do science, and interest in continuing on with the sciences. We also asked students what professions they thought require science and what they were interested in as a career choice. A Z-test analysis was performed on data collected from the surveys. Preliminary results show that the attitudes of the experimental group did not statistically change in response to MSIP. However, the attitudes of the control group declined over the same period of time. In addition, the students that participated in MSIP had a higher overall attitude toward science when compared to the control group. Student comments from the participants of the MSIP experience were positive overall; common statements were, “I learned a lot,” “I had a lot of fun,” and “I’m a lot more interested in science/Mars now.” Based on these results, it appears that students have discovered an appreciation for science through a real-world, hands-on experience.