Live From Mars was active July 1996-December 1997.


Webchat: May 22, l997


Marc (California): . . . . Thu, May 22, 6:09PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
hello, is anyone here to talk about Live From Mars or Shuttle Team
Online?

Marc (California): . . . . Thu, May 22, 6:13PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
I'll stick around for a little while to see if anyone shows up. If you
are here, please announce yourself.

Spectre: . . . . Thu, May 22, 6:14PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
Marc. Spectre here. Tried to get on line the usual way, but found
my screen cluttered with all kinds of...I don't know what to call it.
Could not find the CHAT button!!

Marc (California): . . . . Thu, May 22, 6:17PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
Hi Spectre. I too saw the junk. So I cleared out the chat room so
others wouldn't face the same issues. I thought our system admins
had taken steps so that people were not able to junk up the room,
but I guess clever people can always find ways to defeat such
measures

Marc (California): . . . . Thu, May 22, 6:18PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
Spectre. I recognize your name, but I can't quite place it. are you
an active teacher or homeschooler? Are you involved at all in Live
From Mars or Shuttle Team Online

Spectre: . . . . Thu, May 22, 6:18PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
True enough. Wish people would devote such energies to
productive pursuits!!! So...I am a Technology Education Teacher,
hoping to go back to a science classroom next year.

Marc (California): . . . . Thu, May 22, 6:19PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
What grades and where do you teach?

Spectre: . . . . Thu, May 22, 6:20PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
I teach grades 6, 7, and 8 in Graham, North Carolina, a small town
about 60 miles from Raleigh, NC.

Marc (California): . . . . Thu, May 22, 6:21PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
Let me ask your opinion on something. You may be aware that we
have weekly LFM and STO chats with NASA experts. Since
school is ending, we planned to end the chats until Fall. But some
think that many kids/teachers would be interested in the chats over
the summer. In your area, do many kids have home access? Would
such a service be used?

Marc (California): . . . . Thu, May 22, 6:22PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
Ah, North Carolina. I spent a week teaching Internet in
Greensboro a few years back and found the people there to be
incredibly warm and friendly.

Spectre: . . . . Thu, May 22, 6:22PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
I am not certain about how many of ours have access, but year
around schooling is making a big push all over the Tar Heel State.
They might well want to plug into something like this.

Spectre: . . . . Thu, May 22, 6:23PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
I live about 9 miles outside of Greensboro, myself.

Marc (California): . . . . Thu, May 22, 6:24PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
Say more about "a big push". Is your system doing it? And what
about summer school? Does your system have it and what are the
dates for it?

Marc (California): . . . . Thu, May 22, 6:25PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
9 miles outside...that's close. Do you know my pal Jim Woody?
He was a vice-principal at a high school and now he is a principal
at a middle school.

Spectre: . . . . Thu, May 22, 6:25PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
There is only one school in our system that is year round, but I
know of at least three or four schools in Guilford County
(Greensboro) that are year round. Some of them are Science &
Technology Magnet schools. I don't think we are going to do
summer school in our county ( (Alamance County) this year, but I
can sure find out.

Marc (California): . . . . Thu, May 22, 6:25PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
Jim was at Mendenhall School but now I'm not sure of his new
school

Spectre: . . . . Thu, May 22, 6:26PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
I know of Mr. Woody. Have never met him personally, but I
know him to be a fantastic science teacher and a great assistant
Principal at Mendenhall Middle School in Greensboro.

Marc (California): . . . . Thu, May 22, 6:27PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
I hadn't really thought about the formal schooling (summer and
year round) when I asked my question. Of course they are further
reasons to continue the chats in some form or another.

Spectre: . . . . Thu, May 22, 6:27PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
By "push," I mean that much of the state is headed in that
direction, eventually.

Marc (California): . . . . Thu, May 22, 6:27PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
How fun that you know of Woody. It is a small world

Marc (California): . . . . Thu, May 22, 6:28PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
Please tell me a bit about the material you cover as a technology
teacher

Spectre: . . . . Thu, May 22, 6:28PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
Hey. I'll be glad to participate myself and know of at least one
other teacher who lives in my neighborhood who would like to as
well.

Spectre: . . . . Thu, May 22, 6:30PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
Technology Education at the middle school level is a "switch over"
from the old days of Industrial education. Instead of building
birdhouses and doing "wood shop," we explore the world of
technology. For example, just yestrerday, my 8th graders were
launching the model rockets I helped them to dsign. Another group
is designing gliders made of balsa wood. We will fly them on
Monday.. Our thrust is to introduce very basic concepts. A great
deal of it is little more than physical science, really. We deal in
aerodynamics, force, energy, etc etc

Marc (California): . . . . Thu, May 22, 6:33PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
That is interesting. One of my best friends is a middle school
technology teacher in California. His focus is completely on
computers. So he starts with keyboarding, and kids work their
way up through spreadsheets, word processors, etc. He is very
into imaging processing, so of course the kids do that. And also
digital video.

Marc (California): . . . . Thu, May 22, 6:34PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
How many kids do you have in each class? And do you see the
same kids for consecutive years?

Spectre: . . . . Thu, May 22, 6:34PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
There are a great many different ways that "Technology Education"
is dealt with, even here in NC. I often get mixed up with our
computer specialist.

Marc (California): . . . . Thu, May 22, 6:35PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
also, you said you wanted to do science. Did you used to teach
that? If so, why did you stop? Will you get to teach it again next
year?

Spectre: . . . . Thu, May 22, 6:35PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
I, too, have computers in my class, but they are an additional
resource and not the focus of what we do.

Marc (California): . . . . Thu, May 22, 6:37PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
Spectre, I am also interested in your connections to LFM or STO
(really to any project on Quest). Have you used any with students?

Spectre: . . . . Thu, May 22, 6:37PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
I taught science for several years. When I switched school
systems, they needed someone to do tech ed. What they needed
was someone with a science background, since most of the
principles are related to science. Will I get to go back. I have been
trying to three years now, but the only specialty that is more scarce
than science teachers is Tech Ed teachers. They are reluctant to let
me out of my tech lab because they fear they won't be able to find
anyone to replace me.

Spectre: . . . . Thu, May 22, 6:38PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
I have yet to use any of your projects, but I have been visiting your
CHAT room for a long while. That is probobly where you saw my
name.

Marc (California): . . . . Thu, May 22, 6:40PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
How did you even come across this chat room without being
connected to any of the projects?

Marc (California): . . . . Thu, May 22, 6:41PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
What is your Internet connectivity like at school?

Spectre: . . . . Thu, May 22, 6:41PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
Quite by accident. I was searching the web for science related sites
and stumbled upon yours.

Spectre: . . . . Thu, May 22, 6:42PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
We have only one connection, at present, in our media center. I
asked for one in my tech lab, since telecommunications is defintely
technology, but I have yet to get one. No one seems to want to
fund it.

Marc (California): . . . . Thu, May 22, 6:44PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
I am wondering if it makes any sense for you to use some of our
projects with your kids. For example, STO is all about the shuttle
and you said that yesterday your kids launched rockets. What
about letting them write to one of the folks at NASA that flys real
rockets professionally? Or is that too much of a stretch? Also, there
are a bunch of rocket-related, non-internet lesson plans online in
the STO Teacher's Lounge? How much flexability do you have in
the Tech Ed curriculum?

Spectre: . . . . Thu, May 22, 6:45PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
One thing I do have is flexibility. Both those ideas sound
wonderful.

Marc (California): . . . . Thu, May 22, 6:45PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
By the way, I can take no for an answer. But I am so interested in
understanding why teachers don't use our projects more. Any
insights you can share would be very much appreciated.

Spectre: . . . . Thu, May 22, 6:47PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
I am the kind that would say no, Marc, if I meant no. I am,
truthfully, facinated by the ideas you presented. Let me share a
little "insight" into why so many teachers do not. It's lengthy. Are
you prepared to copy?

Marc (California): . . . . Thu, May 22, 6:48PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
One other thought. We do try to design our projects so that they'll
work even if there is no Internet connections in the classroom. So
for example, via email, we publish a few short stories each week
fromt he folks who work at Kennedy (shuttle launches) and JSC
(mission control). You could print out a story, let your kids
compare to their experiences as rocket engineers, and then think of
a good question or two for the pros. Again, more babble.

Spectre: . . . . Thu, May 22, 6:49PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
The more I hear, the more I like. We need more babble!!!!

Marc (California): . . . . Thu, May 22, 6:49PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
I am prepared to copy. But send your thoughts in bites of a few
sentences at a time so I can mull while you continue to write.

Spectre: . . . . Thu, May 22, 6:50PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
Here goes. First, a lot of people are unaware of your existence.

Spectre: . . . . Thu, May 22, 6:51PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
Next, many teachers are female (let me finish, now) and, sadly
enough, for years, we discouraged the females of the species from
studying science, telling them it was for males only. What
balderdash! So many teachers shy away from getting real involved
with science.

Spectre: . . . . Thu, May 22, 6:53PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
Additionally, we teachers find ourselves having to do more and
more each school year and we find more and more pressures being
brought to bear by the bureaucracy,etc etc. Thus, some are afraid
to take on any extra type things, even when they are beneficial.

Marc (California): . . . . Thu, May 22, 6:53PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
Yes, people are unaware. Good point! We have been trying to
work that nut for a long time, and continue. But it is a long hard
road to walk.

Spectre: . . . . Thu, May 22, 6:54PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
The big thrust here in North Carolina involves those infernal end of
the year tests, the ones the politicians and bureaucrats use to try
and blame us for all the ills in North Carolina. That stiffles some of
our creativity and flexibility.

Marc (California): . . . . Thu, May 22, 6:54PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
I hear you about female teachers. But if that is their job description,
they must teach science, even if they are female. So why not use
NASA projects to help them?

Marc (California): . . . . Thu, May 22, 6:56PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
Teachers are reluctant to take on extra things. I understand that.
Also the tests. good point. I have some questions, but I'll wait to
read more of yoru comments.

Spectre: . . . . Thu, May 22, 6:56PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
You are correct about the job description, but when you feel unsure
of yourself, you don't take as many chances, you don't try unusual
things. I am not saying that this is right. It isn't. But it's what is
happening.

Spectre: . . . . Thu, May 22, 6:58PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
The thing in North Carolina, lately, is teaching to the test. I have
long believed it is far more important to develop students' minds
for their role as citizens and as people. I have never viewed them as
an end product, like something rolling off an assembly line. If
more of us used hands on activities and related thing to the real
world, as the actitities you mention do, then science wouldn't be
such a foreign thing to so many of them. That is particularly true in
middle school.

Spectre: . . . . Thu, May 22, 7:00PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
In some of the poorer school systems, they simply don't have the
funds of the equipment to do some things. That is always a
drawback.

Marc (California): . . . . Thu, May 22, 7:00PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
Gotcha about unusual things. I'm gathering that by definition, an
online offering from NASA would be "unusual". Can you think of
any ways we could make it less strange to help with the problem,
or is this just a circumstance we need to live with?

Spectre: . . . . Thu, May 22, 7:01PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
Well, I never simply accept circumstance as inevitable. Nuts. We
would still have polio running rampant if we did that. Also, keep in
mind that these observations are the observations of ONE person.
And maybe we need some "unusual" things to make education (and
life) better than it is.

Spectre: . . . . Thu, May 22, 7:03PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
Please. don't let what I say discourage you. There are a lot of
things I don't know. Tell you what. I know of one teacher in
Graham, North Carolina, who will make use of your program this
next school year, whether he is in the tech lab or wherever.

Marc (California): . . . . Thu, May 22, 7:03PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
Teaching to the test. When I process that, I think you mean that
teachers teach facts that will be on the tests. Not the process of
how to solve problems. But I thought education was moving away
from "memorizing facts" and moving towards helping kids solve
problems. Do you see it differently?

Spectre: . . . . Thu, May 22, 7:05PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
You're right on all counts when you talk about teaching to the test.
Education SHOULD be able solving problms, critical thinking, etc
etc, but so long as teachers' jobs are put on the line based on a few
tests given in the spring of the year...that is gonna play second
fiddle.

Marc (California): . . . . Thu, May 22, 7:05PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
Spectre, don't get me wrong. I won't be discouraged at all. My
group will continue to produce these projects because I knwo many
teachers do use and benefir from them. But I wish I could get more
to do so. And though your opinions are just yours, I really value
them. You have a perspective I simply don't have.

Spectre: . . . . Thu, May 22, 7:06PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
Be sure to continue doing what you do. Like some of us say, if
you can make a difference for one, even one, over the course of the
year, it is all worth it.

Marc (California): . . . . Thu, May 22, 7:07PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
And is the issue of the importance of tests getting worse over time?
What about the rhetoric of authentic assessment? Is it just not the
reality in your neck of the woods?

Marc (California): . . . . Thu, May 22, 7:09PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
So I want to go back and ask about the idea that "teachers are busy
and can't do extra things". Could they replace something with part
of a NASA Interactive project? That way it isn't something more
but instead something different? Is there anything I could do to
help make it easier for teachers to use our material?

Spectre: . . . . Thu, May 22, 7:10PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
I cannot swear that authentic assessment has no validity here. From
my viedwpoint, it just seems we are constantly being hammered
about our end of grade tests. We have this new program, in NC,
now, called the ABCs program. Under its guidelines, if students
do not show improvement, our Principal can be fired and, if the
test scores are really dismal, our school can be taken over by the
state. A lot of this thing was fueled by the results of the SATs. NC
was rated as low as 49th in the country and that has our politicians
screaming.

Spectre: . . . . Thu, May 22, 7:12PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
I do not see why a program like yours could not be made a part of
an ongoing program at our school or any other. Right now, some
of our students are given 15 of "free" time on our media center
computer. Why could they not use some of that time to interact
with one of your projects. Some of our AG students do
independent study projects. Something like LFM or shuttle on line
would be ideal.

Marc (California): . . . . Thu, May 22, 7:13PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
I do agree that principals should be fired if kids aren't learning, but
it is too bad that the criteria is an end-of-year test that measures
facts and not what is really needed.

Spectre: . . . . Thu, May 22, 7:13PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
I agree totally.

Marc (California): . . . . Thu, May 22, 7:15PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
Spectre, I am going to have to go soon. My wife is feeling ill and I
just heard some sounds from the bathroom that lead me to believe
that her day of recovery may have just ended.

Spectre: . . . . Thu, May 22, 7:15PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
You know, in fairness, facts aren't the only things on these test.
Concepts are tested too, but it's just the idea that the results of
these tests are so crucial that puts so much stress on everyone. So
teachers focus on making sure kids learn what they know is on
"the test" and don't take as much time to be innovative.

Spectre: . . . . Thu, May 22, 7:16PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
Understand. Not feeling real well myself. Hope to talk to you
again, sometime.

Marc (California): . . . . Thu, May 22, 7:16PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
I have really enjoyed the time you took to share your views with
me. I think slowly things will chnage, and the climate for our
projects will improve. But it does take a while

Spectre: . . . . Thu, May 22, 7:16PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
All things take time. You're right.

Marc (California): . . . . Thu, May 22, 7:18PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
Thanks for helping me on the idea that the tests also include
concepts. That makes me feela bit better. I;ll schedule some more
chats here eventually, but for the next few weeks I'm going to take
a break and try to catch up on other things. Please feel free to write
me anytime at msiegel@quest.arc.nasa.gov

Marc (California): . . . . Thu, May 22, 7:18PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
Goodbye Spectre. I hope you feel better soon. Yours, Marc

Spectre: . . . . Thu, May 22, 7:18PM PDT (-0800 GMT)
Good talking to you, Marc. Hope your wife feels better. Bye for
now.