Live From Mars was active July 1996-December 1997.


A New (School) Year's Welcome to... Live From Mars

Dear Educators,

On behalf of Passport to Knowledge and the NASA Quest Project, we'd like to welcome both newcomers and returning teachers to a new school year and a new chance to experience LIVE FROM MARS. Our project has demonstrated that it's flexible enough to be successfully implemented over the coming months whether you and your students have never participated before and don't know exactly what an "electronic field trip" might be, or whether you've logged hundreds of thousands of "Passport Miles" by traveling with us to Antarctica, up into the stratosphere, out to Neptune and Pluto, or began your exploration of Mars with us in the last school year. We invite you to spend a few minutes to find out what's new, what's been working for educators like you, and a few ideas about how to participate.

What's New?
Most important and exciting was this summer's incredibly successful landing of NASA's Pathfinder spacecraft on Mars, and this fall's arrival of the Global Surveyor orbiter. Just about everyone, teachers and students alike, witnessed the TV newscasts and front page stories on Pathfinder's July 4 landing, the amazing color images and the travels of Sojourner, the first robotic rover to explore another planet. Kids and adults followed along with amusement and delight as scientists nicknamed the rocks they were exploring "Barnacle Bill" and "Yogi."

Perhaps what's most exciting about the Live From Mars project is that it gives you and your students many different ways to interact with the people who were front page news this summer, and who will continue to explore Mars. It also takes you behind the scenes at NASA to witness the inside story of cutting-edge scientific research, and relates the exploration of Mars to many of the scientific principles you'll want to cover in class, whatever grade you teach.

What is "Live From Mars"?
An integrated multimedia project, Live From Mars (LFM) is supported in part by both NASA and the National Science Foundation, and directed by Passport to Knowledge, an independent producer of prime time educational television and instructional materials. LFM offers live TV and tapes, online materials and opportunities, and hands-on activities. LFM is very flexible and we suggest a "menu" of ways to participate below.

Video
Two, 60-minute TV programs will be broadcast this fall on NASA-TV and on participating PBS stations. "Destination Mars," to air October 30, will background both missions, introduce Mars as perhaps the most exciting planet to visit in our solar system, and summarize Pathfinder's summer success and the findings of the first months on Mars.

"Today on Mars," to air November 13, will feature the arrival of Mars Global Surveyor and its first results. It will showcase a national online student collaboration to gather weather data from sites across North America and compare and contrast it with a "weathercast" from Mars!

Both programs will contain student interaction with members of NASA's Mars teams, demonstrations of how students have worked with hands-on science projects simulating aspects of the missions, and suggestions for how to get the most out of the project's online components.

Online
You're just a few clicks away from exploring an abundance of resources. Take the Guided Tour. Biographies and journals bring your students closer to the men and women of these challenging missions than is possible in any textbook. These first-person, behind-the-scenes research diaries reveal what it's like to work at NASA through revealing and memorable anecdotes.

The Photo Gallery provides images of spacecraft and Mars, both from the 1976 Viking missions and the current Pathfinder and Surveyor explorations.

Soon to be added is a Guided Tour of Ares Vallis. Imagine yourself on Mars with Pathfinder (the ultimate field trip!), guided by insights of NASA's brightest and best. Sound neat? That's something only our Live From Mars site can offer, using RealAudio and RealVideo to let Matt and Ron and Joy (see how close LFM can make you feel?) speak directly to you and your students!

Also new, and coming soon, "Mars Concentration" and "Red Planet Sliders," two sets of interactive online puzzlers that will challenge your visual memory and knowledge of Mars, using some of Pathfinder's latest images.

Lastly, debuting 9/16, there's "Weather Worlds." In this online collaborative activity, students are challenged to brainstorm what low-cost instruments it would take to record weather near their schools, and to compare and contrast their results with what Pathfinder has been discovering on Mars.

E-Mail Lists
If you're interested and you've not already done so, subscribe to one or more of the e-mail lists. For all the latest news we offer this weekly online newsletter.

If you want to share ideas with other teachers, make suggestions to the project, we invite you to subscribe to the special Live From Mars teacher discussion forum. This moderated group provides a kind of "virtual faculty lounge" with advice for teachers of just about every grade level and subject. 

And there's another way for teachers to find support from fellow teachers: in the Teacher's Lounge section of the Web site check out "Fellow Teachers Can Help" to find out how you can interact with some of America's most innovative and most enthusiastic teachers, who've signed up to mentor peers via the Internet!

Hands-on Activities
One hallmark of every Passport to Knowledge (PTK) project is an original Teacher's Guide, supported by a poster, student worksheets, and other instructional materials. A multimedia kit including the Guide, a teacher orientation video, additional posters, a set of slides, and the "Mars Navigator" CD-ROM is also available. You can order the materials from Passport to Knowledge.

How Much Time Should You Invest?
Evaluation has shown that there are many different ways to use PTK projects successfully. Since this is an electronic field trip, you can think about the options as "Economy" or "First Class" travel packages.

"Economy"
Take the Guided Tour of the Web site. Be sure to access What's New for the latest from NASA's Mars missions. Stop by the Mars Team pages with biographies and journals. In Featured Events note the "WebChat" schedule, your opportunity to interact directly with NASA experts. Look at the Kid's Corner; your students could be featured here in the months ahead! Go to the Teachers' Lounge and review the online version of the Teacher's Guide and the Multimedia Kit. Visit the Video section and check out the schedule for upcoming broadcasts. Do some hands-on activities and watch the programs!

"First Class"
Of course, do all the Economy options, but also order the videos from 1996-97. Order the Multimedia Kit and review the Teacher Resource Video for background and ideas for implementation. Participate in Weather Worlds. Stage several hands-on activities. Watch the fall '97 videos and be sure to gather assessment data: we're sure you'll be amazed at how much your students have been learning (and we'd like to hear reactions from you and from them!)

You'll soon learn what works best for your and your students and you'll be able to build on the successes of the year before -- shared by fellow teachers in the "discuss" archives. And it won't be over soon. NASA plans to launch missions to Mars about every two years, so you'll have "Real Science, Real Time" to share with new groups of students in the years ahead... and you'll all be master teachers! Knowledge about Mars and NASA's missions will be "cached" in your brain, so your teaching will be both better and easier! Whatever level of involvement you choose, we wish you luck in the months ahead. So, on behalf of NASA, the National Science Foundation, Passport to Knowledge and NASA's Quest Project,

Onward and Upward, to Mars and Beyond...

Geoff Haines-Stiles Project Director, Passport to Knowledge and the Live From... specials

Sandy Dueck Project Manager, NASA Quest Project