- As the Mars rover Perseverance landed on the red planet, some students across California virtually watched the event. Observing the landing was tied to lessons that helped them explore topics from Earth science to climate change, EdSource reports.
- Elementary school students at Kumeyaay Elementary in San Diego, for example, built models of where future Mars pioneers may live using toilet paper rolls and cereal boxes, while some students at Alliance Renee & Meyer Luskin Academy High School in Los Angeles took part in coding a virtual rover that could move around on Mars.
- Some classes also engaged in cross-curricular lessons, from English students writing essays about whether space travel is cost-effective to a history class at Mulholland Middle School in Lake Balboa learning the first multi-stage rocket was developed in China.
Real-world STEM objects and events, such as the landing of Mars rover Perseverance this past week, can be used to create engaging hands-on science and math lessons. Educators say these connections tap into students’ imaginations, creating maps showing where their school work ties into their everyday lives, and potentially a future career.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which built Perseverance, has a number of lessons through its education arm that tie into areas of STEM beyond space science. The site includes K-12 activities about climate change, for example, such as those looking at what contributes to rising sea levels. Another examines satellite data to help students explore renewable energy sources like solar power.
The National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure, supported by the National Science Foundation, also has a catalog of STEM activities, broken down by grade level. For example, young elementary school children can explore the idea of size by comparing and contrasting different objects such as horses and other animals. Likewise, high school classes can explore how silver nanoparticles support antibacterial properties in the socks they may buy at a store.