AAS 201st Meeting, January, 2003
Session 28. Astronomy Education and Public Outreach
Oral, Monday, January 6, 2003, 10:00-11:30am, 613-614

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[28.05] MarsQuest: Bringing the Excitement of Mars Exploration to the Public

P. B. Dusenbery, C. A. Morrow, J. B. Harold (Space Science Institute), S. L. Klug (Mars K-12 Education Program, Arizona State University)

We are living in an extraordinary era of Mars exploration. NASAís Odyssey spacecraft has recently discovered vast amounts of hydrogen beneath the surface of Mars, suggesting the presence of sub-surface ice. Two Mars Exploration Rovers are scheduled to land in early 2004. To bring the excitement and discoveries of Mars exploration to the public, the Space Science Institute (SSI) of Boulder, CO, has developed a comprehensive Mars Education Program that includes: 1) large and small traveling exhibits, 2) workshops for museum and classroom educators (in partnership with the Mars Education Program at Arizona State University (ASU)), and 3) an interactive Website called MarsQuest Online (in partnership with TERC and JPL). All three components will be presented and offered as a good model for actively involving scientists and their discoveries to improve science education in museums and the classroom.

The centerpiece of SSIís Mars Education Program is the 5,000-square-foot traveling exhibition, MarsQuest: Exploring the Red Planet, which was developed with support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), NASA, and several corporate donors. The MarsQuest exhibit is nearing the end of a highly successful, fully-booked three-year tour. The Institute plans to send an enhanced and updated MarsQuest on a second three-year tour and is also developing Destination: Mars, a mini-version of MarsQuest designed for smaller venues. Workshops for museum educators, docents, and local teachers are conducted at host sites. These workshops were developed collaboratively by Dr. Cheri Morrow, SSIís Education and Public Outreach Manager, and Sheri Klug, Director of the Mars K-12 Education Program at ASU. They are designed to inspire and empower participants to extend the excitement and science content of the exhibitions into classrooms and museum-based education programs in an ongoing fashion. The MarsQuest Online project is developing a Website that will use the MarsQuest exhibit as a context for online interactives that delve deeper into Mars science. This project, supported by NSF, will explore the potential for in-depth, Web-based studies that extend museum exhibit content onto the Web.

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