Re: Planning a Mars Night for families

Subject: Re: Planning a Mars Night for families
Date: Tue, 29 Oct 1996 08:44:16 -0500

Dear Marg-

WOW - a Mars Night!  You've got a great opportunity to...
*  validate and showcase students' effort and achievements;
*  create very positive PR for teachers, school, and kids;
*  raise level of awareness of and knowledge about the Mars Mission along
with uses of technology in education.

Below are some ideas on how to organize this event for your classes, grade
level and/or school.  

1)  Assign an independent research project which parallels the Live From Mars
-  Brainstorm a "project ideas list" for your students (basically, keep topic
Mars and astronomy-related) PLUS a "project presentation" list.  Let kids
know that their projects will be on display at your 'Live From Mars
Exposition' in December.  Discuss with them the various ways they might
choose to present their research information, eg., a diorama, a poster, a
video, a multimedia display (using HyperCard, HyperStudio, PowerPoint, etc.),
a radio program, a 3-D model, a mobile - involve students in this part of the
process, their ideas will be non-stop!  
-  Allow kids to work independently or in a small group (2-3 kids max).
-  Provide a 'Topic Shopping' period in the school library/media center,
allowing students time to see what materials are available for research.
-  Send letter home (to be signed by parent/guardian) outlining project
requirements, project objective, due date, etc.

2)  Brainstorm with colleagues ways they can support the Exposition in their
various disciplines.  Have teachers (or students) keep examples of student
work related to the LFM unit that could be displayed.  Poetry, writing,
- For Live From Antarctica 1 and Live From the Statosphere, the English
teachers on my middle school team implemented  wonderful poetry units and we
highlighted the kid's poetry at our exposition.  The math teachers helped
with spatial relationships and making of timelines, constructing of graphs,
making solar systems to scale, etc. The Industrial Tech teacher had the wood
shop classes create a mock-up of the Kuiper Airborne Observatory in our
school concourse! The social studies teachers took classes to library to do
research for projects, held debates, taught about timelines, and helped
organize the kids' project portfolios (aka, Mars Mission Logbooks).
-  Be sure to pass all ideas past your building administrator... and CLEAR
-  Inform your school custodians and enlist their help (getting the gym
ready, bringing in tables, risers [useful for displaying projects], clean -up
afterward, etc.

3)  Enlist a small group of parent volunteers who might help by
-  organizing publicity
-  decorating the exposition hall (gym, cafeteria, etc.)
-  providing refreshments

4)  During the next few weeks, keep a camera handy and take pictures of kids
interacting in various parts of the LFM module (at computers, doing science
simulations, reading, writing, planning... whatever).  Ask a parent (or
school media club rep) to videotape kids at various points in the unit; these
clips can be edited together as a 'digest' and run continuously at the

5)  Spotlight technology at the Exposition.  
-  Run a phone line into the gym (be creative...) and have a computer station
available (manned by students) to access the LFM homepage and other linked
Mars sites.
-  Save all email questions sent to "question-lfm" along with the answers
that students receive.  Print them (larger font size) and make a bulletin
board display.
-  Set up a TV-VCR and run tape of November 19th broadcast.
-  Set up TV/VCRs and computer stations necessary to showcase students'

6)  Ask for student volunteers to help in the following areas (perhaps
parents or other teachers could organize and coordinate these groups...
-  set-up
-  Exposition Tour Guides (make simple red vests in home ec class to wear
with white shirt, black pants/skirt)
-  Publicity (signs, flyers)
-  clean-up

-  local paper
-  local TV coverage
-  school and school district publications

-  local government officials
-  school board
-  central office administrators
-  classes from area schools (elementary and nursery)
-  students and families

This will be a great event for your kids - they will LOVE having their
efforts showcased AND being involved in the production!  It will also be a
lot of work for you.  My advice is to involve a small group of your
colleagues to help organize the event right from the beginning and then
delegate the various tasks.  

And, finally, please share the event with Passport to Knowledge by sending us
pictures and/or videos, news articles, samples of student work, etc.  Let us
know which items we may keep and which you need to have returned.

Best of luck!
Pat Haddon
Passport to Knowledge