2010 Annual Science Report

University of Wisconsin Reporting  |  SEP 2009 – AUG 2010

EPO Activity: Project 6D: Imagine Mars Training for UW Center for Biology Education ARMS Program

Project Progress

The Imagine Mars Project is a national arts, sciences, and technology education initiative that leads students to work together with scientists, engineers, artists, and civic leaders to design and share a futuristic Mars community for 100 people. We facilitated a training session for 80 people who lead after school science clubs in the Madison, Wisconsin area.

The University of Wisconsin Center for Biology Education runs after school science clubs in Madison-area schools through their Adult Role Models in Science (ARMS) program. The goal of ARMS is to enhance science education at the elementary and middle school levels through long-term community partnerships.

The ARMS staff regularly hold training sessions for their volunteers to expose them to new activities and science content. In March, 2010 Norsted and undergraduate student Nick Wiersum led the evening session with hands-on projects related to the Imagine Mars Project. [FIGURE 1 – Norsted speaking to workshop participants] After introducing everyone to the scope and goals of the project, we spent the majority of the evening demonstrating five activities: * Which One is Home?
By examining satellite photos of Earth and Mars, we first discussed how similar and different the surfaces of each planet are (at least seen from space). Then we tried replicating these surface features in table-top sand trays using water, wind and shaking. * Alka-selzer Rockets
Building and testing these simple rockets was an introduction to space travel discussions. Each group of participants designed and tested their rocket before a group competition. * Rover Races
After a introduction to rovers and the lasndscape of Mars, four-person teams would work together to successfully navigate an obstacle course blindfolded. Simulating a rover component, each person would have a task (navigation, robotic arm, * Candy Bar Coring
Surfaces can be deceiving – this activity required participants to make predictions about the contents of each (non-descript) candy bar and then test them by extracting a core. This activity preceded a discussion of the portable labs and equipment each Mars lander and rover is equipped with. * What Does Community Mean to You?
A large component of the Imagine Mars Project is developing an understanding of what community means to the participants. In building a community of 100 people on Mars, they need to not only think about the physical requirements to survive on Mars, but also what keeps a community happy and thriving. This station focused on considering these aspects of successfully living on Mars.

While Norsted and undergraduate students were able to lead programming at one after school site (see Imagine Mars at Emerson Elementary Afterschool Program), this training allowed us to “teach the teacher” and run activities to educate all of the leaders of after school science clubs in Madison. These leaders where then able to check out supply kits from the ARMS Program and lead their own versions of the Imagine Mars program at their sites.