New findings from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) have provided the strongest evidence that liquid water flows intermittently on present-day Mars. Using an imaging spectrometer on MRO, researchers detected signatures of hydrated minerals on slopes where mysterious streaks are seen on the Red Planet. These streaks appear to be result of water movement over time. These latest findings will bring many opportunities for engaging discussions in classrooms around the world, as well as the opportunity to incorporate meaningful, and timely science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) investigations with Mars-based themes. During my STEM teacher training workshops teachers conduct engineering design challenges. Some of these challenges are space-based the challenge being to design habitats for survival on the Moon and Mars, as well as solar cookers, growing seeds in space, designing rovers that can carry cargo loads without sinking on a non-Newtonian surface, etc. I’m hoping that teachers will take the opportunity to engage their students in discussion, and meaningful STEM-based investigations relative to Mars and space exploration, even if it does not fit nicely into their current content based on curriculum maps, etc. The following photos are from past STEM teacher training sessions, they depict some of the space-based engineering design challenges teachers have been asked to undertake during the training sessions. Teachers work in small groups, with limited time, and materials, and incorporate the engineering design process throughout the challenge. If teachers are totally engaged, excited, and enlightened from the experiences, imagine what K-12 students would do? The following NASA video gives an overview of the discovery of liquid water on Mars.
Katrina Schwartz of Mind/Shift summarizes William Klemm, senior professor of neuroscience at Texas A&M University speech who spoke at the Learning and the Brain conference “Making Lasting Memories”. Interesting theories about how memory, focus and good teaching can work together to help kids learn. Klemm is a proponent of teaching students how to learn to solve many of the problems our educational system faces. I’d like to take it a step further, and dig deeper and ask teachers to rethink how they teach. Are the daily interactions they have with their students engaging, enriching, and making connections to the real-world? It’s my belief to make lasting memories for students of all ages teachers must strive to develop a classroom environment that is student-driven vs. teacher driven. A classroom environment that helps to develop and strengthen critical thinking, creativity, communication, and collaboration. What use does it make to memorize useless, route memorization facts? The key to making lasting memories is to give students ownership of their own learning, and provide meaningful learning experiences vs. memorizing a “bunch of disjointed facts and concepts”. When I’m contracted to conduct science or STEM training, I make it clear to the client that my first goal in my trainings is to get teachers to analyze how they teach and to develop a classroom environment that is student driven. I achieve this transformation by having the teachers become students, they realize the power in making learning relative, engaging, and meaningful. Providing opportunities for teachers to share their questions and ideas throughout the entire training. Change must come from within, in regards to our educational system, change must come from the top down. After all, students are products of their environment. Check out the article by Schwartz. http://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2015/04/09/how-memory-focus-and-good-teaching-can-work-together-to-help-kids-learn/.