The student will be able to present a written proposal for their
Planet Explorer Toolkit and the rationale for their proposal in a
clear and concise format.
Some Project Logistics to think about....
Join the debate-lfm forum as soon as you have decided to become part of
this online collaborative activity. Although most of the activity
online will take place between December '96- May '97, the PTK Staff will
sharing late breaking news and valuable information via the debate forum
beginning October 25, 1996.
Note: Although there is not a formal registration or sign up
process, the PTK staff will be collecting information about
the classes participating in this collaborative activity sometime in
STEP 3: Student Research / Information
In order to effectively determine which scientific instruments would
be best to include in their PET, students must know something about
the instruments Mars Mission scientists selected for Pathfinder. They
must also be knowledgeable about the various instruments Earth scientists
use to collect data about our home planet.
Conduct research. Collect information about the Mars Pathfinder's
set of instruments by visiting the NASA JPL (Jet Propulsion Lab) Mars
Pathfinder Web site and collecting information. Visit the Live From
Mars Web site (http://passporttoknowledge.com/lfm). Select
Featured Events. Select Planet Explorer Toolkit Collaborative Activity
for links to related Web sites and online background information
files. Use your Live From Mars Teacher's Guide for additional
STEP 4: Lead a class discussion focusing on the
factors that will impact your final decisions on the instrument set
selected for your class's PET.
- Have students record information in their Live From Mars Mission
Logbooks (see LFM Teacher's Guide, Activity A 1.)
- Have a brainstorming session to identify all the scientific
instruments used by Earth Scientists. Identify what is measured
through the use of these instruments. Decide if this data would
be useful/valid and practical for use in their own PET.
If students are unfamiliar with the scientific instruments,
have them conduct research in the school library,
by doing interviews with local scientists, weather experts,
or using electronic resources like the Internet to locate
You might have a guest speaker (scientist, weatherman, astronomer)
visit your classroom and discuss the instruments they use in their
research and work. If possible ask them to display the
instruments and show how they work, what type of information can
be collected, and why that information is valuable.
Sky and Telescope provides a Directory of
Astronomy Clubs, Planetariums and Observatories that could be helpful in
locating speakers or mentors to help with this activity.
- Discuss the factors that impact real life mission scientists as
*Discuss the factors that impact real life mission scientists as
they determine the payload on planetary spacecraft.* Be sure to
read the Biographies and Field Journals of the Mars Mission
Team for clues about this aspect of the mission planning.
The Live From Mars Web site has a special *Team Members* link
where you will find these interesting personal journals.
- Discuss what "consensus" means and the fact that the students
in each class must debate the merits of their unique PET. Discuss
how logic, compromise, and debate netiquette plays a special
role in this online collaboration.
- Discuss the need to have a "universal PET" which everyone
(no matter where they are located geographically) must use to
collect data. The consensus reaching process may end with
no one particular class's PET being selected, but rather a blend
of ideas from many proposals. Or we may find that one
school/class does have the best PET proposal. Explain that
this determination will be made online via discussion and that
the students should be ready to support their ideas with logic
and carefully planned supporting evidence.
- Discuss what impact cost has on their instrument selections?
Remind students that their PET must not exceed $200.00 in value.
Just like in real life, missions' cost limits what can be included
instrumentation packages aboard spacecraft.
- Finally, determine your class proposal for the best Planet
Explorer Toolkit. Document (record) the proposal and explain
why you feel this is the best PET. More information describing
exactly how to submit your proposal will be shared online in the
debate-lfm forum. Please do not begin submitting your proposals
until December 10th!!
December 10th-December 20th....
STEP 5: Submit your Planet Explorer Toolkit
online sometime between December 10th and December 20th, 1996, one report
per participating class. If you are a homeschooler, one per participating
family. You are encouraged to post your PET after careful thought and
Once proposals are posted they cannot be revised and re-posted, so
be sure to come to consensus within your classes or learning environment
BEFORE submitting your PET proposal.
Remember that you will be sharing not just your PET proposal but also
the *rationale* for the PET that you select.
A PET Proposal submission form and
specific posting directions are available online and posted
to the debate-lfm forum. Please use the format of the form that will
December 10th through December 20th, 1996
STEP 6: Read the debate-lfm postings (e-mail
messages) on a regular basis and share the various PET proposals posted
with students. You may want to print out the proposals and have a class
discussion focusing on the pros and cons of each proposal and how your own
December 20th-January 5th -- Break for the holidays
January 6th-March 14th, 1997
Online Discussion Begins/ Consensus by March 14th, 1997. Note
the date for reaching consensus has been extended due to the
needs of the participating classrooms. NASA Mars Mission experts
will be on hand during the first two weeks of March to assist and
mentor our group through the final stages of determining the
STEP 7: Be prepared to discuss (online and in
the classroom) the merit and the lack of merit of the PETs proposed during
the January 6th -- March 14th debate period.
Pay particular attention to the "guest experts" (planetary experts,
scientists, researchers, or other online guests) and the questions
and issues they pose.
Be ready to respond online as a class to comments, ideas,
rationale with which you agree/disagree. Be *engaged* in the
discussion by taking an active role as a PET participant. Pose
relevant questions to our guest experts and PTK staff moderators
as well as to other PET participants.
Help reach the final decision for the BEST Planet Explorer
Toolkit. Discuss the meaning of the words: team,
consensus and compromise. Remember, the goal is to determine
one universal BEST Planetary Explorer Toolkit that ALL classes
can use. Consensus reaching will be key. PTK Staff will assist
in this process as will our online experts.
The class in each grade level range (elementary, middle, and
high school) which best demonstrates effective critical thinking,
problem solving and debate netiquette will be honored with
special PTK awards.
March 14 -- April 4th, 1997
STEP 8: Immediately after consensus is reached by March 14th ,
gather the instruments that have
been selected for the PET. You may need to borrow instruments from your
local high school or science center.
STEP 9: Determine the exact location (within
easy access) of your data collection site. You might want to debate this
location as a class or in small groups. Decide what location within your
region is most characteristic (unique, revealing, symptomatic) and can
be identified by the participating classes through simply interpreting
the data you submit online. Decide who will collect and record the
data. Schedule a convenient time to do so.
By April 4th, 1997...
STEP 10: Using the PDI (Planetary Data Input)
Form posted here and online in the debate-lfm forum,
collect the data and submit it electronically to NASA Quest.
Be sure to collect data carefully and follow explicitly
the instructions given online immediately after reaching
***Be sure to submit your data by 5pm Pacific time, April 4th.***
All PDI data will be
shared online at our Live From Mars Web site and all participating
schools will be recognized online for their participation and data
Late April through May 20th
STEP 11: PTK Staff will develop a set of
seven Mystery Sites for each grade level range and will be posting
this Super-Sleuth activity and directions on how to participate in
the "Where In the World Are These
PET Mystery Sites?" activity. Watch for news of this enrichment
activity to be posted in the debate-lfm forum and the Live From Mars
Late April through May 20th, 1997.
STEP 12: Classes participate in the "Where
in the World Are These PET Mystery Sites?" activity. Classes will submit
answers (one set per participating classroom) online. Specific directions
posted to the debate-lfm forum and via the LFM Web site.
A winning class in each grade level range will be selected
from those who have correctly identified all five Mystery Sites.
If ties occur, a drawing will identify the winner.
Students will also participate in special extended activities developed
by the PTK Staff focusing on Interpreting Collective Data from around
These activities will encourage students to interpret the
collective data and draw inferences about related scientific
concepts. Topics relating to this activity may include the
following: weather phenomena, geologic features, seasonal
After May 20th, 1997...
This collaborative activity will remain online for all interested
students, educators, parents, etc., to enjoy over the
coming months as the Mars Pathfinder reaches its destination
STEP 13: Additionally, consider some form
of assessment and evaluation!
The essential question "What have students learned by
participating in the Planet Explorer Toolkit activity?" can be best
measured by checking to see if students have met the learning
objectives stated in this activity. Review these objectives and
consider one of these possible evaluation tools:
- Have your students present their PET to a younger class
explaining the purpose, procedure, and the results of their
participation through the use of a multi-media presentation
(graphics, videotape, computer generated multi-media program
like Powerpoint, Hypercard, etc.)
- Have students respond to the following essay question:
If you were selecting a planetary research team that
would lead a scientific mission to land on Mars, what qualities
would you expect in this group to have? And why?
- Engage students in a debate modeled after the online
consensus reaching forum used in the PET experience. Require
them to reach consensus on an issue. For example: Pretend you
are an alien from a far away planet and you must decide where
on Earth is the best landing site that will give the most unique
and interesting data about the Earth in general.
Assess their skills of teaming, ability to compromise, think
critically using logic and articulating rationale.
Please share your assessment ideas online!