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Mission Briefing
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Mission Briefing

Welcome to the Moon, Mars, and Beyond live simulation website. This website provides everything a teacher would need to run this simulation effectively in his or her classroom.

This program is an innovative way to engage students in grades 3-5 in the power of math and science in real world situations. The mission is based on authentic space science and math. During the mission, students connect live to a Flight Director with the help of computers, the Internet, and video conferencing equipment.

A Rescue Mission

The year is 2080 and NASA has permanent research bases on both the Moon and Mars. From these bases, astronaut scientists can study stars and planets and continue to search for possible life outside Earth.

Exploration vessels routinely take off from the Moon and Mars to conduct research. Flybys of planets and moons yield valuable information and will tell us if the establishment of more research stations is possible. The exploration missions also look for and track any comets, asteroids, or meteoroids which may potentially harm the Earth or our bases.

The Mission

On Mission Day, the students are in Mars Mission Control anxiously awaiting the arrival of a space ship that is launching from the lunar base. The space ship is on a rescue mission. It has been five days since a research vessel exploring the outer regions of our solar system has checked in with the Mars base. They are thought to be lost or having communication problems. The rescue ship just launched from the Moon will hopefully bring the two astronaut crew back to the Mars station safely. The rescue ship will have to stop at the Mars base to pick up the supplies needed for the rescue of the astronauts and for the trip back to Mars.

The students have a lot to do before the rescue ship arrives at the Mars station. They are divided into teams to work more efficiently on the rescue. The teams are based on the five planets in our outer solar system, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto, with an additional team working to communicate the results of the team work directly to Earth Mission Control.

Within each Planet Team, the students must assume roles to accomplish the rescue. The jobs for each Planet Team are:

Transmissions Specialists receive information from near their planet about where the lost ship has been each day. The information is encoded and the students must decode it using:
Words = Greek symbols
Each letter = Circular symbols
Words = Math equations [for example: (3 x 4) was (10 + 10)]
They complete a problem-solving chart to track where the ship has been spotted each day Monday through Friday and help predict the location of the lost ship for rescue.

Navigation Specialists plot the location of each planet on an X-Y coordinate plane. They also must plot the location of solar system “Unknowns” and the course of the ship over the last five days.

Cargo Specialists calculate the cargo needed for a rescue trip to their planet. The cargo needed includes food, water, and oxygen for the two astronauts on the trip out to rescue the lost astronauts and for all astronauts on the return trip. They must also calculate the number of packing crates necessary to pack the supplies.

The Communications Team relays vital information to Earth Mission Control throughout the rescue attempt. The team members must gather information and data from all teams and communicate the information effectively to ensure a coordinated rescue effort.

Each team receives the data they need on the team’s data computer. Each specialist receives three sets of data. Final calculations are recorded on a main data board at the front of the room.

Working together, the teams must locate the lost ship and rescue the astronauts.

Students begin preparing for the mission by selecting the Communication Team or Spectialist Team according to their interest or expertise. They complete a team application and gather resumes that highlight their interest or skill in a particular rescue task. In the subsequent weeks they engage in preparatory activities during which they practice how to plot data on coordinate graphs, decode messages using a decoding key, and plan for supplies vital to saving the lost astronauts.

A Crisis Brought to Your Classroom

Moon, Mars, and Beyond joins the lineup of innovative distance learning programs offered by the Challenger Learning Center. Simulations are an interactive method for teachers to effectively use technology in the classroom. Research indicates this way of learning leads to improved problem-solving and critical-thinking skills and teaches students the importance of teamwork and communication.
Shifting to digital learning is critical to the success of education in America. Moon, Mars, and Beyond creates an opportunity for you to apply various technologies and provides necessary digital content lacking in so many computer classrooms. The program's interactive nature also gives students a chance to experience distance learning through simulations, no matter how remote the school.

The Curriculum

Throughout the program students apply math, science, and reading skills to solve problems. The program was designed by middle and high school teachers, educational researchers, and subject matter experts. Lesson plans are provided to help students prepare for the mission. All materials were created to reinforce national science and math standards.
Good luck on your rescue mission!
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The Challenger Learning Center’s innovative program for digital learning, the e-Mission™, provides teachers with curriculum aligned with state and national standards and a mission conducted via distance learning. e-Missions are designed around best practice models and principles derived from the latest educational research. principles derived from the latest educational research.

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