Warren Betts or Monica Gillen
Passport To Knowledge
MARS "ROCKS" WITH LAUNCH OF INNOVATIVE NATIONAL EDUCATIONAL TOUR
The National Science Board recently stated that America was not educating enough students in science and technology and, as a result, could soon face a critical shortage of home-grown talent.
On December 2, an innovative outreach initiative known as "Marsapalooza" begins its tour of five of the nation's largest population centers to bring the excitement of science and high technology to America's youth. The M-Team is a group of six accomplished young researchers and engineers, who have been working on NASA's ambitious Mars Exploration Rover mission. Marsapalooza is part of "To Mars with MER", made possible with major funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), and additional support from NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and directed by Passport To Knowledge (P2K). The project's objective is to encourage young people to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, are scheduled to arrive at Mars in January 2004 to examine rocks and soil for clues that might suggest if the environment was once hospitable to life.
Pre-tour events featuring the M-Team are planned for November 30, and December 1, in Brooklyn, the Bronx and Harlem. On December 2, the M-Team is introduced nationally when they launch "Marsapalooza" at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York City. The event will feature hands-on activities, a video exploration of the technology behind the rovers, and the science goals of the mission. The fast-paced tour will continue to Washington, D.C. (Naval Observatory and George Washington University), Chicago (Adler Planetarium), and Denver (the Museum of Nature and Science) with a finale event in Los Angeles on December 8 at Universal Studios Hollywood.
"We at NASA are thrilled to work with our esteemed partners on such an innovative initiative," said NASA Administrator, Sean O'Keefe. "It is critical to capture the attention of the nation's young people in order to educate them and inspire them into action. We hope to shine a spotlight on the educational value of the Mars mission, all the exciting careers that play a role in making an historic mission like this possible, and the challenges inherent in one of the greatest endeavors in recent space exploration."
M-Team members Jim Rice, Deborah Bass, Zoe Learner, Kobie Boykins, Adam Steltzner, and Shonte Wright, a diverse group of scientists and engineers, will represent the thousands of men and women who built, tested, launched and now are flying the Mars Exploration Rovers. Organizers expect Marsapalooza to reach thousands of students and educators directly, and millions more through TV programs.
"We are delighted to be a part of Marsapalooza," expressed Ellen Futter, President of AMNH. "Presenting such exceptional role models to our nation's youth is exactly the type of worthwhile activity that resonates with the community. The icing on the cake for us is the opportunity to also educate students from urban communities about the science, engineering and people behind the Mars missions."
MARSAPALOOZA was conceived and coordinated by PASSPORT TO KNOWLEDGE, and made possible by major funding from the National Science Foundation, NSF. Additional support comes from NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (NASA/California Institute of Technology) and the NASA JPL Mars Public Engagement Office.