From: Geoffrey Haines-Stiles <>
Date: Thu, 24 Jul 1997 09:51:28 -0400

>>>There are questions here for those interested in Mars, or Earth science
(such as the rainforest, for those continuing on from LFA), so please skip
to the bits that most concern/interest you, and let us know what's on your

Dear "discuss"-ants,

Thanks for traveling with us this past year to Mars -- and didn't we all get
there in style on July 4! -- and to Antarctica. It's been an exciting and
challenging set of virtual journeys. There have been some real high points:
the Planet Explorer Toolkit debate and activity, our live tour of the Adelie
penguin colony on Humble Island, the awards and recognition many of you have
been receiving locally and nationally, and capping it most recently the
chance for Rhonda Toon to write up her experiences so eloquently in the July
28 BUSINESS WEEK (p. 18 "A Class Act on the Net", using PTK as a leading
example of why the Net can deliver quality educational experiences, and not
just the "Silicon Snake Oil" and "Computer Delusions" some other writers
refer to. The PTK team is pleased and proud to have help midwife the
excellent learning adventures many of your have brought to your classrooms
around the nation. Now, we know from messages about Mars Pathfinder on these
lists that at least some of you are are watching TV and scanning the Net
during these summer months. So we thought we might float a few ideas and
questions which we hope might help make NEXT year just as exciting. 

1) LIVE FROM MARS. As you know, we always planned to continue our LFM field
trip  into the new school year. Dates for programs are now set for October
30 and November 13, both Thursdays at 13:00 Eastern. PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS

Our questions, like our project, relate to the varying media we use:
For NEW teachers coming to LFM for the first time in 97-98, what do they
MOST need to see in the program of October 30th, which we always billed (in
the Guide, etc.) as a VIDEOTAPE (not live) orientation for teachers and new
students in the new school year? 
Given the success of Pathfinder, how much "background", how much analysis of
the latest results, how much coverage of the people behind the mission, how
much on Red Rover, or the PET, or hands-on activities featured in the Guide?
Given the excitement about Sojourner, how can we introduce Mars Global
Surveyor,  and orbital mission whose science return is likely to be as much
or greater?

What can our site best ADD to the wealth of pictures, etc. which can be
found on the NASA JPL site and its mirrors? What can we do to complement,
not compete with other sites?
Can/should new teachers and classes be encouraged to make their own PET
97-98, now they can see what NASA has done on Mars with its real PET?
The QUEST team has been doing an excellent job of getting Pathfinder folks
to write journals even during the hectic days around landing: how important
are journals to your students? Does the presence or absence of IMAGES of the
people and their activities add much value in exchange for increased
download time?

We do not plan a new Guide, since we suggested activities and background for
October and November in the original. Thank Heavens the mission succeeded so
well so as to leave our materials current! 

But we would very much like to hear how LFM has related to your
INSTRUCTIONAL REQUIREMENTS, to your ability to implement the National
Science Standards, to meeting state and or local goals for technology or
content. What activities worked best? 
What did your students get from LFM that they could not get from more
traditional learning experiences (e.g. textbooks and even CD-ROMs)
Since you teach not "Mars" but "solar system", the planets, etc., how can
the immediacy and specifics of Mars work for your overall goals?

2) LIVE FROM THE RAINFOREST, currently scheduled for the 4 Tuesdays in April
98.  RAINFOREST has always come in #1 in our surveys of teachers and
students about their most preferred future field trip. But there are already
large amounts of material, for elem. and middle schools, out there. JASON
has done a "reef and rainforest" series, and Turner has been to Costa Rica.
And MECC's Mayaquest had some rainforest elements. 

We think PTK has some unique contributions to make, but we'd like YOUR
expert input. Given our "real science, real scientists, real locations, real
time" approach, what can WE give YOU to make "the science of the rainforest"
work for you? 

We plan to make "rainforest" an exciting and even exotic location which
dramatizes some basic issues of biology: evolution and adaptation, the
engines of biodiversity, and why some biomes thrive and others wither. What
other themes could we usefully hit?
We also plan to "bring the rainforest home", by looking for activities,
online and hands-on, which ensure students understand that the issues and
science they see under and in the exotic, far-away canopies also exist here
in the U.S., not just in the Pacific NorthWest, Hawaii and Puerto Rico, but
also in the backlot down the road, or -- as in the case of PTK Advocate Joe
Dolan -- in the replacement of the MidWest prairies with "urbs" . 

So, again our questions:
What can PTK add that's not there in other materials?
What should the VIDEOS add to the mix?
What features of the PTK model of ONLINE materials (background, journals,
Q&A, etc. etc.) should do what, and what might be added that is both "state
of the art" in terms of the use of the Web, and not too
technically-challenging or time consuming for classroom use? 
If you've used our multimedia KITS, what existing materials are so good that
we might add them to the now standard PTK set of Guide, poster, worksheets,
teacher training video, etc. etc.?

Basically these questions are just "brainstorm-starters." We want to hear
your ideas, thoughts, suggestions. One unique aspect of PTK is our interest
in your opinions ("Pan the **** camera more!") and our willingness to
integrate some of them with our production plans. So, here's your change to
speak up... we very much hope to hear from you!

So, Onwards, Upwards (yes, Seth, we like the "s" for its poetic force, not
its strict grammatical accuracy -- it's like an injunctive, "let us go on
and up") to Mars, the Rainforest and beyond! Enjoy your summer... and let's
make next year a winner for all of us.


Geoff H-S

Geoff Haines-Stiles
Project Director, PASSPORT TO KNOWLEDGE & the LIVE FROM... specials
"electronic field trips to scientific frontiers"
Real Science, Real Scientists, Real Locations, Real Time
vox: 973.656.9403 * fax: 973.656.9813 * mobile: 908.305.7061
alt. e-mail:
Antarctica... Stratosphere... Hubble... Mars... and more