Mission to Mars has been designed to work well with teachers who have any number of different situations; we hope these hints and tips will help you use this site effectively with your class. Please give us feedback about how we've done in this respect; also, share your suggestions with other teachers in the "Teachers Topics" Discussion Forum.
The scope of information in Mission to Mars covers the history of the planet, the history of human fascination with it and the history of missions to it--as well as the current series of missions and the future of Mars exploration. There is flexibility to fit this in many places in your curriculum.
Solar System Unit. You could use Mission to Mars as an introduction to the exploration of space or use it to supplement your classroom lessons as a more specific and focused example of how space probes are used.
Activity. Mission to Mars is a compact and focused site that could be used anywhere in your curriculum as an extra project--especially since it incorporates the news-making Pathfinder and Sojourner.
Extra Option. You could offer Mission to Mars as an activity for interested students to explore on their own; if you like giving extra-credit, then you could add that element of incentive.
Mission to Mars is equally flexible in the technology that can be used to explore it.
Independent Missions. Students--on their own or in small groups--can design missions if you have a computer lab with machines connected to the Internet. It would probably require four sessions in the lab for students to be able to work through their missions. You might find it useful to have a day of introduction before-hand and a day of discussion before students finalize their missions, thus allowing you to make sure the activity progresses as you hoped it would.
One Class, One Mission. If your access to the Internet comes as one computer in your room or somewhere else in the school, then you can always have the entire class work together on the mission. This will help emphasize the need for consensus in decision-making that characterizes real-life mission development.
Collaboration. Before the deadline of the contest, we were not able to fully implement the feature that allows collaboration between students in different locations; after the entry is reopened for our work, we hope to be able to finish this for your use during the school year. For now, you can simulate this by having several of your classes work together on a mission, forcing each group to explain its choices and negotiate and compromise; simply create one ID and have each group log in and out normally.
If you have students doing independent missions, then you'll want to make sure that they've been staying on task; a couple of important methods are already built into the site.
Graduation Diploma. On graduation from the Mars Academy, students will have a diploma printed on their screen; you can come around to their machines and see the diplomas, have the students print them out or even have them use Netscape's "Mail Document" option to send a copy of the page to your email.
Press Release. A central component of Mission to Mars is the press release, which is written to explain decisions and data after the probe has landed on Mars. Since the option is provided for posting of this release, in which case their press release will be posted as a mission homepage, you can later review their writing from the online List of Missions.
Quizzes. While there are no quizzes on Mission to Mars, other teachers might be interested in what you devise; if you want to make a quiz about the material on this site, then feel free to post it in the Teachers Topics area of the Discussion Forum.
you could just have students look at the information pages, but then you would miss out on the exciting, interactive simulation
remember to have students write down their IDs and passwords
we highly recommend going through the mission-design process once by yourself before introducing it to students
please share your own hints and tips with others in the Teachers Topic area of the Discussion Forum
give us feedback about how we can make this site easier to use with classes
We hope that you and your students find Mission to Mars both educational and exciting and that you will become a frequent user of and contributor to this site. Good luck!
Mission to Mars. An educational site created for the ThinkQuest contest.