Re: hello from W.A.

From: Jan Wee <>
Subject: Re: hello from W.A.
Date: Wed, 05 Feb 1997 23:00:57 -0600

Dear Dean and all,

>Hello from Perth, Western Australia.

Welcome to Live From Mars!  

>My class of year 9's are working in groups of 3.  I am spreading one
>of their modules over the first half of the year.  They will be tuning
>into the Mars missions several times this year.  

>Pay TV and Cable TV is new to Australia, and luckily some people at 
>this school have access to the Discovery channel, so we may be able
>to get some of the broacasts mentioned recently.

Our broacasts are carried on NASA-TV and PBS's main satellite, Telestar
402R, but not the Discovery Channel. From what I understand you would 
likely *not* be able to access either satellite coordinates from your locale, 
but we do make tapes of the programs available.  The debut program, 
*Countdown* which aired live November 19th, 1996 can be ordered
from the Passport to Knowledge office.  Please email me directly 
if interested in more details!

>Is it possible for us(students) to ask questions about the mars missions.

Yes, in fact, the LFM Researcher Q and A is available through December of
this year.  The following file was posted in our Live From Mars
online newsletter (updates-lfm) back in mid-November but serves as 
a refresher for all on how to use this special interactive component
of this project.  


The opportunity to send email questions to the men and women of
the Mars team is available now until December of 1997. In most
cases, you will receive a direct reply within 10 days to two weeks.

We are grateful to the Mars folks for generously volunteering
their time to support this service.

The sections below will describe some guidelines and procedures
for the process.

K-12 students and teachers can email questions to researchers,
engineers and support staff. This interaction will be supported by
a "Smart Filter" which protects the professional from Internet
overload by acting as a buffer. The actual email addresses of these
experts will remain unlisted. Also, repetitive questions will be
answered from an accumulating database of replies; thus the
valued interaction with the experts will be saved for original
questions. (More information about how you can directly search
this database will follow later).


Each and every expert is excited about connecting with
classrooms. But it is important to remember that the time and
energy of these people is extremely valuable. If possible,
please review the materials available online to gain an overall
understanding of the basics. It would be best to ask
questions that are not easily answered elsewhere. For
example, "What is the Mars Global Surveyor?" would not be an
appropriate question. Questions which arise from reading a expert's
biography or Field Journal are encouraged.

We recognize that this creates a gray area about whether or not a
question is appropriate. Simply use your best judgment. Since the
main idea is to excite students about the wonders of science and
research, please err on the side of having the students participate.
If you are not sure whether or not to send a question, send it.

Some teachers have used a group dynamic to refine the questions
that they email to experts. For example, after first studying LFM
material, students divide into groups and create a few questions
per group. All of the questions are then shared, and students are
given an opportunity to find answers to their classmates'
questions. Those that remain unanswered are sent to the LFM

Ideally, the act of sending questions will further engage the
student in their learning. It may help to think back to an early
stage of development when the 3-year-old learns that repeating the
word "why" can get parents to do most of the work in a
conversation The wise parent will try to get child involvement by
asking "Why do you want to know?" The same is true in the
classroom. Teachers might want to help students to learn to ask
good questions. Here are three questions the students might ask
themselves as they submit their questions:

      What do I want to know?

      Is this information to be found in a resource I could
      easily check (such as a school encyclopedia)?

      Why do I want to know it? (What will I do with the
      information? or How will I use what I learn?)

The last question is the most interesting. Student reflection on
why they want to know something is a very valuable learning


Questions will be accepted from now through December 1997.
To submit a question, mail it to the following email address:

We will acknowledge all questions immediately and answer as
quickly as possible. In most cases we should be able to provide an
answer within ten days to two weeks.

In the subject field, please put the letters "QA:" before a
descriptive subject. Also, provide a sentence of background
information to help the experts understand the grade level of your
students. The following example should illustrate this idea.

FROM:           your email address
SUBJECT:        QA: People in control room
I am an 8th grader from Mt.View, California. In the television
it seemed like there were a lot of people in the control center to
control the mission to Mars. How many people normally work in this

Thanks, Kelly Valentine


If you or your class have several questions which are unrelated,
we ask that you please send each unrelated question in a separate
email message rather than as one message with many different
questions. While this may be inconvenient, it is important because
it will help us to keep track of the questions and ensure that no
question remains unanswered. Messages that do not follow this
request will be unnecessarily delayed as we go through the extra
step of splitting up the messages ourselves.


Any individual teacher will be limited to submitting a total of
twenty (20) questions every three months. Hopefully this will
encourage more classroom discussion about what students want
to know and will lead to research done before asking questions.


All of the question/answer pairs will accumulate online for your
browsing or searching pleasure. To visit this archive, use as the starting point.


Good luck! I hope your students send their questions soon.

Jan Wee, moderator of discuss-lfm