NASA Teleconference about Curiosity, today

Excited to be part of  teleconference with NASA, today.

We have begun upping the ante when it comes to STEM-related work here at the school, and this series of teleconferences brings things into sharp focus, especially for me. Just a few months ago my students got to speak to an astronaut and experience a whole day of hands-on activities for Mars Day.

This event is about getting to probe the higher knowledge, of why the pursuit of Mars, and why scientists are on a race to study the topology and climate on the planet.

The rover, Curiosity has given us earthlings an instrument dashboard through which we could study the Martian surface. Not only through the advanced imagery, but by the chemical analysis.

The event is targeted at many different age groups.

Third- and fourth-graders will be challenged with figuring out why Mars is “the planet of choice” for NASA’s missions.

Fifth- to sixth-graders will look for “the similarities and differences in soil analysis” done on Earth and Mars. The conference notes say that students will (post-conference) be able to create a model of an “aeroshell” to simulate entry and descent of Curiosity.

All my students have looked at the descent pod —the so-called “powered descent” –and how the complicated landing was handled. Slowing down the descent of a one ton robot from 180 miles per hour to a mere 1.7 miles per hour, using the sky crane, above, was one of those feats that blew their minds, and made astronomy so exciting.

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