DEC Scan Journal : Volume 34 Issue 1
2015 Volume 34, Issue 1 29 Contents Editorial Currents Teaching & learning Research Curriculum support Share this Resource reviews • it uses PBL to allow students to direct their own learning and have an authentic scientific experience with the Mars Lab • it provides a step-by-step guide for teachers on how to apply PBL in their science classrooms. Students are provided with a single driving question: can Mars support life? In their attempt to investigate this question, students need to work with others and use a variety of science inquiry skills. In this video, Alice Leung, science head teacher at Merrylands High School in Sydney’s west, outlines the benefits of this program for her students. The students identify their own research questions and hypotheses to: Mars Lab to remotely control a robot rover across the Mars Yard to capture close up images of the sites they believe match their clues. Following the mission, students examine their images and consider what evidence they provide about the possibility of life on Mars. Mars mission five, made with the Junior School of the Presbyterian Ladies’ College (PLC) in Melbourne, show how the program captures student interest. Sixty minutes on Mars This is a five-lesson teacher-led unit of science curriculum-linked activities that provide an introduction to the search for evidence of life on Mars for Years 7–10. During this program, students investigate some of the geological and astrobiological features of interest on the Martian surface and consider what it means to look for evidence of life on Mars. Students ask questions like: • what do we look for? • where do we look? They then use this knowledge to: • carefully plan, practice and execute their collaborative 60-minute rover mission • gather photographic evidence of these features draw evidence-based conclusions. Project Mars This is a 5-6 week project-based learning (PBL) unit for Year 9 chemistry and physics but adaptable (and tested) for younger and older students. The program has a dual purpose: Alice Leung talks about Project Mars • learn about the structure of the atom • explore aspects of spectroscopy, light and electromagnetic radiation science • conduct a scientific investigation using a Mars Lab rover and its virtual instruments • collect and analyse data • interpret the results, report on findings and make a formal presentation of their findings to Mars Lab science advisors. Assessing learning Assessment of the PBL program is summative and formative, an assessment methodology employed in Australian schools, which greatly enhances learning outcomes (Boston, 2002; Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), 2005). The teacher assesses student presentations and a written report. The students undertake peer review, self- assessment and group assessment, all of which Finnish students are taught to do from Kindergarten. Finland led the OECD Program for International Student Assessment tests in numeracy, literacy, reading and science literacy in 2000, 2003 and 2006. TV multi-cast studio The education programs are also supported by a series of video conferences in which students interact with Mars scientists, engineers and other experts. The Mars Lab has its own multi-cast studio to undertake these video conferences and also in which to build multiple video resources that can be accessed by anyone on the Mars Lab website.
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