THE IMPACT OF MARS EXPLORATION ON TEACHING, OUTREACH, AND STUDENT EDUCATION: A DECADE OF EDUCATION AND PUBLIC OUTREACH AT THE NEW MEXICO MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY & SCIENCE USING THE MARS EXPLORATION ROVER MISSION
The second component was an overall theme entitled “Mars and New Mexico” that emphasized basic geoscience for all age groups. Within this framework, the Museum began to provide targeted geoscience programs, using Mars or the rover mission(s), for preK-12 teachers, students, library/after-school programs, families, and the general public. The programs also included bilingual (Spanish/English) events and activities. Within the past decade, participation in all Museum Mars-related programming has totaled 10,000 adults and children.
One of the permanent results is a complete teachers’ guide and curriculum designed to enable preK-12 teachers to use their students' interest in Mars as a "hook" to teach earth science standards. This guide has been reviewed and accepted by NASA Educational Materials Adoption Review and has been updated to include Curiosity. Approximately 2500 copies of the curriculum have been distributed to educators and a “Mars and New Mexico” Workshop for preK-12 teachers has been offered each year at the Museum for the past decade.
Lessons Learned: The strength of students’ interest in planets and planetary missions can be successfully used to teach geoscience. Using Mars to teach geoscience has resulted in an increase in both the numbers and types of audiences we have reached. Our ten years of “Mars and New Mexico” has been successful because we: (1) partnered with other science education providers and school districts to make maximum use of resources; (2) used Mars and our local region as analogs in order to teach geoscience in a way that was interesting and relevant to local students; and (3) involved elementary to high school teachers in the development of our Mars-related programs and materials in order to meet necessary standards.