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MSIP: Steps To Mars
Mars Student Imaging Project Read the Overview Compare Formats Express Interest Download Materials Read FAQs Want Training? Contact Staff

MSIP activities align to the National Science Education Standards as well as build essential 21st Century Workforce Development Skills. The MSIP resources included on this page provide educators and student teams with the necessary information needed to complete the project.

Choose the format you intend to use and download resources. MSIP staff can assist you if you have any questions.


Mars Student Imaging Project: Independent Research Format

Independent ResearchIn the independent research format, students complete the project in 15 class periods.

Please contact an MSIP Coordinator if you have questions about this research process.
 
 
 

OVERVIEW:This introductory session is designed to introduce your students to theMars Student Imaging Project (MSIP), Earth / Mars comparisons and ThermalEmission Imaging System (THEMIS) images.

ACTIVITY:Studentsbecome familiar with similarities and differences between geologic featuresfound on Earth and Mars.Students beginthinking about interesting topics they may wish to research, using THEMISimages in order to become familiar with the primary data set they will use fortheir research.

MATERIALS:

OVERVIEW: This activity guides students through an inquiry-based andcritical-thinking approach to studying the surface of Mars as planetaryscientists do.

ACTIVITY:
Students learn to create a geologic map of Mars and to use relative-age-datingtechniques to analyze the information and to interpret the geologic history ofthat region.  

MATERIALS:

The Mars Uncovered Teacher Guide, Student Guide and three possible images to map at the following links:

Three possible images to map:



OVERVIEW:This activity allows students to use a hands-on approach to get familiar with geologic features that can be seen in THEMIS visible images.

ACTIVITY:Students identify geologic features seen in images, make measurements,and label information regarding relative ages of geologic features within theimage.

MATERIALS:



OVERVIEW: It is important for students to know that starting with generalquestions is good, but that general questions must focus on something veryspecific (such as the geologic features related to general topics they observedin the Mars Image Analysis activity). The goal of this activity is tohelp them focus their questions. 

ACTIVITY:Students collaboratively brainstorm on possible research questions ofinterest to them.

MATERIALS:

OVERVIEW:It is important for students to know that starting with generalquestions is good, but that general questions must focus on something veryspecific (such as the geologic features related to general topics they observedin the Mars Image Analysis activity). The goal of this activity is tohelp them focus their questions.

ACTIVITY: Students continue to work toward their research question by establishinga Big Picture Question and reviewing JMARS for MSIP background talks. Thesetalks help students determine the tools available for their research.

MATERIALS:



OVERVIEW: It is important for students to know that starting with generalquestions is good, but that general questions must focus on something veryspecific (such as the geologic features related to general topics they observedin the Mars Image Analysis and activity). The goal of this activity is tohelp them focus their questions.

ACTIVITY: Students continue to work toward theirresearch question by establishing multiple working hypotheses and choosingtheir most interesting and likely explanation for the Big Picture Question.

MATERIALS:



OVERVIEW: Once students select a research question and working hypotheses, it is important for them to plan the way in which they will collect data that specifically supports their research.

ACTIVITY: Students establish their final research question and write a fewhypotheses (based on their prior observations) to answer this question.Students use the JMARS for MSIP tool to begin planning their data collection procedures and to establish their experimental "controls" or"criteria" to ensure they collect the data they intend to collect.

MATERIALS:



OVERVIEW: Once students know what data they need to collect in order to answertheir question and to support or to refute their hypothesis or hypotheses, theyneed to think about how they will analyze their data.  For this activity,students need access to a computer that has Microsoft Excel (or graph paper anda hard copy of the MOLA elevation map of Mars).

ACTIVITY: Students practice making observations and interpretations and graphingtheir data.

MATERIALS:



OVERVIEW: The proposal outline helps students create an outline of their work tosee if they lack any information for their project.  Consider this outline as a progress report and as a guide to assist students with their project. As students progress with their research, some information they includein this proposal outline will most likely change.Proposal modification is a natural part ofthe process of science.

ACTIVITY: Students have already completed most of the information for the proposalin the previous activities.  Students use the proposal outline to compiletheir previously acquired information in one place, to confirm they are all onthe same page, and to ensure consistency with their research plan.

MATERIALS:



OVERVIEW: Scientific research depends on collaboration and respectful debate inorder to reach consensus and to ensure accuracy in research design andfindings.

ACTIVITY:Studentsdiscuss and share their ideas for each proposal section and come to consensuson what information is important to include.  Students discuss and debatehow they should collect data and divide the available images among them tomaximize the number of different data points their team will collect.

MATERIALS:



OVERVIEW: It is important for team members to collaborate on making sure datainput is consistent and accurately records their observations andinterpretations of data in a way that meets their research question(s).

ACTIVITY: Students compile their THEMIS Image Data table informationinto one team master data table in an excel spreadsheet.As a team, students then carefully reviewtheir final compiled master data table to eliminate any inconsistencies.

MATERIALS:



OVERVIEW: Once students have compiled their data, they are ready to make datainterpretations based on their observations and to create graphs based on thisanalysis.

ACTIVITY: Usingtheir compiled master data table, students discuss and finalize whatgraphs they want to create for their project, as well as who is responsible formaking each graph.

MATERIALS:



OVERVIEW: All students complete the MSIP final report or presentation as acomprehensive culminating requirement. Similar to that of publishing ascientific paper or journal, the MSIP final report helps prepare and trainstudents to record their scientific findings and experiments in an organizedmanner so that future analysis and understanding can be construed from theirresearch.

Scientificjournaling is one of the most important tasks scientists accomplish.Through this comprehensive requirement,students work as real scientists by defining their scientific question,establishing the background information that drives their research, explainingthe methods that they chose to use to collect their data, and discussing theirconclusions.

ACTIVITY: Using the information researched and the data acquired and graphedthroughout the project, students compile their information, draw someconclusions, and put together all of their information into the MSIP FinalReport Outline.

MATERIALS:



OVERVIEW: All students complete the MSIP final report or presentation as acomprehensive culminating requirement. Similar to that of publishing ascientific paper or journal, the MSIP final report helps prepare and train studentsto record their scientific findings and experiments in an organized manner sothat future analysis and understanding can be construed from their research.

Scientificjournaling is one of the most important tasks scientists accomplish. Through this comprehensive requirement,students work as real scientists by defining their scientific question,establishing the background information that drives their research, explainingthe methods that they chose to use to collect their data, and discussing theirconclusions.

ACTIVITY:Students discuss their completed MSIP Final Report Outlines inorder to ensure they have included all information related to their research toensure information is consistent among team members.

Oncecomplete, students may opt to post their findings on the MSIP TeamResults webpage or present in nationwide professional conferences with accessto Mars experts and other student research groups.

MATERIALS:

Helpful Resources

Schedules

Feel free to design your own schedule. The independent research format fits classroom periods of about 45 minutes over 15 days (3 weeks).

Standards: See Alignment with Standards.

Independent Research FAQs: Get answers

Helpful Resources for All Stages





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