Planet Explorer Toolkit Activity Feedback

From: Jan Wee <>
Subject: Planet Explorer Toolkit Activity Feedback
Date: Wed, 30 Oct 1996 19:22:05 -0600

Dear discuss-lfm members,

Glad to hear that several of you are already actively implementing
the P.E.T. activity into the classroom.  There is plenty of
time to get involved if you haven't yet decided to do so.
There were several questions posted today about the activity 
that I want to address.  

For clarification:

1) The Toolkit will consist of whatever instruments that *we 
as a group* (students, educators, and experts) determine to 
be the BEST Toolkit for measuring those qualities that uniquely
describe the essential characteristics of your region.  Just as the
Pathfinder's Rover must collect data that uniquely describes 
the Martian environment, our activity engages us in the same 
process but with Planet Earth as the focus of our data collection

Students will debate the merits of their proposed Toolkits
in January in our online forum.  Through a consensus reaching
process we will decide the BEST universal Toolkit. Everyone
will use the same set of tools to collect data in their

The Toolkit will be real instruments that must not be of more
than $200.00 in value.  We do not expect that you will have to
buy instruments, but rather these will be the type of instruments
commonly found in schools or that can be easily borrowed.  Since
you actually have to go out and collect data about your region,
you won't be using a newspaper for data that you submit... rather
you will have to use the tools in the Toolkit to do actual data 
collection.  You won't be able to take your computer out to
the Planetary Data Input Site (the area within a two hour drive
that you select for the purpose of collecting the data) as computers
are just too expensive and probably won't fit in your Toolkit!  

2) The method by which data will be submitted will be via electronic mail
or via a form that we will make available on our web site.  I am
looking into submitting data via other means, but these two 
methods are the most efficient.  

3) There is a definite size restriction to the Toolkit -- we
are using a shoe box that can be no larger than:

The shoe box is limited to no larger than 14"(length) 
 X 6.5"(width)  X 4.5"(height). 

You'll find that this is a pretty typical size for the boxes
used for athletic shoes!  

I hope that this information helps.  We hope this activity is
one that really has the kids' doing some critical thinking.
There ought to be some significant time spent on the discussion
in class and in small groups as your students begin the process
of deciding just what kind of information (data) ought to be
collected by the instruments in the Toolkit.  This activity is
designed to promote the use of higher level thinking skills
and to promote the scientific inquiry process.  We will have
Dr. Sanjay Limaye, Planetary Scientist from UW-Madison, assisting
with the debate in January.  We think you will find his input and 
the input of other guests to be very helpful.  

The full 13 Step Procedure to follow is available on our
Live From Mars web site under the Special Events link.   

Thanks to Lucy, Mellie, Charles, Teresa and others who have
e-mailed me directly with your questions and feedback.

Jan Wee, Co-Moderator