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PASSPORT TO KNOWLEDGE - To MARS with MER Gretchen Cook-Anderson
Headquarters, Washington
(Phone: 202/358-0836)

December 01, 2003
RELEASE : 03-384

P2K "Rocks" Mars With Launch Of Innovative Educational Tour

Passport to Knowledge and other collaborators launch Marsapalooza Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. EST at the American Museum of Natural History, Rose Center for Earth and Space, New York.

Marsapalooza, an innovative, national education outreach tour of youthful NASA Mars mission scientists and engineers, kicks off with a dynamic, multimedia event. The tour features the Marsapalooza Team (M-Team), six accomplished young scientists and engineers, who will encourage young people to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The M-Team will visit five major cities during a fast-paced week of events. They will reach out as role models to students in under-served communities for the purpose of inspiring the next generation of explorers, to inform young people about Mars education program opportunities, and to raise public literacy about NASA's Mars Exploration Rovers' mission.

Marsapalooza is the product of a unique partnership funded by the National Science Foundation and NASA, produced by Passport to Knowledge, and hosted by several museums, planetariums, science centers, and schools across the country. The Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, are scheduled to arrive at Mars in January. They will examine rocks and soils for clues about whether the sites once had environments hospitable to life.

"We at NASA are thrilled to work with our esteemed partners on such an innovative initiative," said James Stofan, the agency's director for informal education. "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, the exciting careers that all 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," he said.

Marsapalooza touches down in New York, Washington, Chicago, Denver and Los Angeles December 2 - 8, complete with animated video footage, its own musical soundtrack, and the message to young people that science and mathematics are cool.

The M-Team, Dr. Jim Rice, Dr. Deborah Bass, Zoe Learner, Kobie Boykins, Dr. Adam Steltzner, and Shonte Wright, a diverse group of scientists and engineers, are representing the Mars Exploration Rovers' mission on the tour. Organizers expect the tour to directly reach more than 10,000 students and educators and tens of thousands of others through closed circuit TV, NASA TV video clips and online streaming video of kick-off event highlights. Tour events will also provide students from kindergarten through high school the opportunity to participate in hands-on activities and educational demonstrations related to the science of the Mars Exploration Rover mission.

"We are delighted to be the launch pad for the Marsapalooza tour," said Myles Gordon, director for education programs at the American Museum of Natural History. "The objective of Marsapalooza mirrors important aspects of the Museum's mission, to share with the public and young people in particular, the excitement, importance, and relevance of discovery," he said.

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.