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LIVE FROM MARS 2001: Mars Conference

Mars Virtual Teacher Training Conference

The summer of 1996 marked the 20th anniversary of the Mars Viking Landings. During 1996 and 1997 we will see new American and Russian missions to the Red Planet. Many educators across the country are gearing up for a special focus on Mars during the upcoming school year. Live From Mars, the next electronic field trip from Passport to Knowledge (sponsored in part by NSF/NASA and public television), will connect students across the country with the upcoming NASA Discovery Program's Mars Pathfinder and Mars Global Surveyor missions.

Passport To Knowledge has many exciting events scheduled for the 1996-1997 school year. Live From Mars will include four live telecasts, hands-on curriculum materials, and online resources from November 1996 through November 1997.

A three-day teacher workshop to help educators prepare to implement Live From Mars in their classroom occurred on July 18-20 in Washington, DC, site of the Viking Commemoration. Teachers at the workshop included representatives from each state, many of whom have actively participated in the Passport to Knowledge (PTK) projects over the past three years. Guest speakers included NASA Administrator Dan Goldin, and NASA JPL Mars Pathfinder and Global Surveyor mission scientists and experts. Optimizing the integration of electronic field trips and the Internet in the classroom was also the focus of the workshop.

Passport to Knowledge and NASA abolished the constraints of time, space, and travel budgets, by conducting a virtual workshop on Saturday, July 20. A number of people are helping to make it happen!

The virtual conference was conducted through the use of online interactive technologies such as email, WebChat, RealAudio, Cu-SeeMe and MBONE. Virtual participants had an opportunity to interact live via participation in electronic mail forums and WebChats. Remote participants also had access to all support curriculum materials via the World Wide Web. Through this first time ever PTK/NASA-sponsored virtual conference the same professional development experience was available to all educators, regardless of their geographical proximity to the live workshop.


As each remote site and participant had access to different connectivity and system technologies, a wide variety of virtual conference technologies were made available.

Below is a short list of the equipment required to participate in the virtual workshop:

  • NASA TV - satellite dish pointed toward the proper transponder (particulars to be provided)
  • MBONE - T1 connection
  • CU-SeeMe - T1 connection (sound and video) /14.4Kbps (low quality video)
  • WebChat - 9.6Kbps modem
  • Multiple WebChat - several computers connected simultaneously to the Internet
  • Single WebChat - 9.6Kbps modem
  • Written Transcripts - an email account
  • Interaction via Email - an email account
  • Real Audio - 9.6Kbps modem
  • Web Access - 9.6Kbps modem