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Cedarwood Elementary School works on Mars all year


Cedarwood Pathfinder Project

For more than 3000 years, Mars has captured the imagination of all.
It has also been the subject of intensive scientific study. NASA began
exploration of Mars with the Mariner IV mission in 1964-65, and will
continue on July 4, 1997, when the Mars Pathfinder spacecraft will
touch down on the Red Planet at the mouth of a giant flood channel,
Ares Vallis. This mission gave the Cedarwood Elementary School an 
opportunity to simulate a scientific expedition. 

 PROGRAM DESIGN

Pathfinder is a total hands-on activity. Students constructed the planet
Mars surface, designed a model of their own Pathfinder spacecraft, and
studied all aspects of planning and conducting a mission. This 
included: providing news coverage, performing experiments, gathering
data, and conducting a debriefing.

October/November (1995): The design and engineering of the student 
Pathfinder landing systems and rover vehicles from K'Nex. Boeing sent
two engineers into the room weekly for 8 weeks to help teach engineering
concepts.

Each step of the mission, students created HyperCard, HyperStudio stacks
and multi-media presentations to showcase their studies. These presentations
were displayed during the mission for everyone to view. The use of a 
video spigot card allowed students to include video clips into their
computer presentations. By recording the trial and error of the vehicle
design and building process, the students reached a level of learning
far surpassing any book-based curriculum.

December/January: Design methods for vehicle protection. Tests were
conducted from a 75-foot ladder (fire truck) onto the student-made
Martian surface.

March 8th (Mission Day):  Community, parents and other students were 
invited to watch as students dropped their vehicles from a ladder, 
then had to control them to make soil and rock collection. Guests were
given the opportunity to predict which designs would be successful.
All project methods were analyzed and data collected and recorded on the
best designs. The library was turned into Mission Control, where over
25 students designed lessons were conducted for other students not
directly involved.

Some other highlights were: A visit by the Governor of the State of 
Washington, who invited some of the class back to the State Capital.
At the Capital, the State Seal was applied to the first official
Mars Driver's License, issued to Brian Cooper, chief rover operator
for NASA's JPL. Brian had to pass a test, of course, before the
license was issued.

Pictures and Text submitted by:
Fran O'Rourke/Hartman
2908 122 St. SW
Everett, WA, 98204
Fran's Email

Page created - November, 1996, Alan N, Federman

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