1. Shannon Schmoll
  2. Director of Abrams Planetarium
  3. World Building On Mars
  4. https://abramsplanetarium.org/marshabitats/
  5. Michigan State University
  1. Denice Blair
  2. Director of Education
  3. World Building On Mars
  4. https://abramsplanetarium.org/marshabitats/
  5. Michigan State University
  1. Stacey Fox
  2. https://comartsci.msu.edu/our-people/stacey-fox
  3. Wizard In Residence
  4. World Building On Mars
  5. https://abramsplanetarium.org/marshabitats/
  6. Michigan State University
Public Discussion

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  • Icon for: Shannon Schmoll

    Shannon Schmoll

    Lead Presenter
    Director of Abrams Planetarium
    May 9, 2022 | 05:06 p.m.

    Welcome everyone to World Building on mars! This is a curriculum we created that explored building cities on the red planet. We designed it to be flexible and to work with kids from upper elementary to high school and across teaching modalities (virtual, in-person, and hybrid). Students learn about Mars as well as Urban Planning before setting forth and designing buildings and laying out cities.

    We piloted this with 5th-12th graders in all three modalities at an urban public school, a suburban private school, and rural public school. Independent evaluation was done and showed learning gains in students as well as resounding support from our pilot teachers. 

    The pilot iteration had student designs come to life in unity. This isn't a service we can continue to offer but we would love to hear what resources would be helpful for teachers to do their own version the unity-based model as we consider the next steps for this project. 

    You can check out the full curriculum, evaluation reports, and student cities as at https://abramsplanetarium.org/marshabitats/

  • Icon for: Denice Blair

    Denice Blair

    Co-Presenter
    Director of Education
    May 9, 2022 | 05:55 p.m.

    Hello and welcome! I was one of the partners who helped create the "World Building on Mars" curriculum. Thanks for checking out our video. We look forward to hearing your questions and comments.

  • Icon for: Stacey Fox

    Stacey Fox

    Co-Presenter
    Wizard In Residence
    May 10, 2022 | 08:57 a.m.

    Hello Everyone! I was the artist who created the Mars bases in the Unity game engine, translating the students architectural drawings into 3D interactive immersive online worlds. Their designs were inspiring! I look forward to hearing your questions and comments.

     
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    Kristin A DiVona
    Mark DeLoura
  • Icon for: Tiffany Stone Wolbrecht

    Tiffany Stone Wolbrecht

    Planetarium Lecturer
    May 10, 2022 | 12:18 p.m.

    Wonderful project!

  • Icon for: Denice Blair

    Denice Blair

    Co-Presenter
    Director of Education
    May 10, 2022 | 12:25 p.m.

    Thank you, Tiffany! We appreciate your feedback.

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    Tiffany Wolbrecht

    Informal Educator
    May 10, 2022 | 12:20 p.m.

    Fantastic!

  • Icon for: Stacey Fox

    Stacey Fox

    Co-Presenter
    Wizard In Residence
    May 10, 2022 | 01:00 p.m.

    Thanks Tiffany!

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    Yasmin Catricheo

    May 10, 2022 | 02:11 p.m.

    Wonderful project!!! Congratulations Dr. Shannon Schmoll 

  • Icon for: Renae Kerrigan

    Renae Kerrigan

    Curator of Science & Planetarium Director
    May 10, 2022 | 03:09 p.m.

    This is such a fun project! How do you think it could scale up? Can teachers use this curriculum without skills in Unity?

  • Icon for: Shannon Schmoll

    Shannon Schmoll

    Lead Presenter
    Director of Abrams Planetarium
    May 10, 2022 | 03:21 p.m.

    The curriculum is already about 5 weeks long (depending on how you schedule activities). Students can definitely spend more time on the projects and exploring Mars. We have also run this with a summer camp at only about 2 hours, just cutting some of the activities and it worked well too. So it can adjust as necessary. That said, one way it could scale up is to have multiple classes work together to build a larger city, or have students take more time to develop the buildings.

     

    Teachers do not need until skills. They can have students focus on drawing and mapping their cities instead. They can also have them build them using cups, egg cartons, etc. One of our pilot teachers had done that in the past. 

  • Small default profile

    Tim Spuck

    May 10, 2022 | 03:43 p.m.

    Makes me want to go back to school! Did the students work in teams to design their habits or did each student design their own? 

     
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    Vivian White
  • Icon for: Denice Blair

    Denice Blair

    Co-Presenter
    Director of Education
    May 10, 2022 | 04:40 p.m.

    We had a lot of fun with this too! In a previous related project, students worked on their own. I think the projects were better (more detailed, better thought out, etc.) with them working in groups this time.

  • Icon for: Vivian White

    Vivian White

    Informal Educator
    May 11, 2022 | 01:00 p.m.

    I thought the same thing. Love how you use imagination, creativity, and design to get them excited and thinking. Great project! 

     
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    Vivian Guilfoy
  • Icon for: Shannon Schmoll

    Shannon Schmoll

    Lead Presenter
    Director of Abrams Planetarium
    May 10, 2022 | 04:21 p.m.

    Thanks Tim! The students worked as a class and in smaller teams. Each class worked to layout their own city and decide which buildings to design and which were the most important. Then smaller teams worked to design the different buildings. 

  • Icon for: Mark DeLoura

    Mark DeLoura

    May 10, 2022 | 07:52 p.m.

    This seems so engaging for student teams to be able to see a 3D visualization of their work! But I understand it can be a lot of work to put together those visualizations: looks like you used Maya and Unity? I wonder if some more accessible tools might be useful to enable the students to design their own 3D buildings and also promote creativity in those designs through more rapid 3D feedback loops. Perhaps SketchUp or Tinkercad, or Fusion 360 for modeling... visualization is more challenging but for something static TwinMotion could work, or... thinking of a good accessible 3D game engine is just difficult, even Godot or GameMaker are more fiddly than one might wish. Wonder if you've explored and found other tools you like?

  • Icon for: Stacey Fox

    Stacey Fox

    Co-Presenter
    Wizard In Residence
    May 10, 2022 | 09:54 p.m.

    Hi Mark!


    Short answer....So many softwares so little time. Long answer..You named several that are quite fun and I think Dr. Denice Blair from the MSU Museum has at least one or two in the past when teaching Urban Planning in schools before this project. Sometimes just the ability for a student to turn their build around in 3D space in SketchUp or Tinkercad is super exciting. I use the Maya/Unity combo for creating interactive environments because its what I use when designing digital surrogates of artifacts and dig sites for the Smithsonian and other museums. It’s a great combination. Make the digital surrogate once and then it can be used across multiple platforms for transmedia storytelling as well as printing for tactile experiences for students to use in a board game or have to keep and take home. And pop outs in AR. Blender is another great free 3D modeling/animation software. Unity was a platform that allowed us to make the student environments available online and interactive during Covid.  I’ve done classes from 3rd grade up through Higher Ed teaching students and teachers the basics of Maya and Unity.  Its really accessible without getting too complicated. And educators/students can get both for free. The main questions are how much time does a teacher have (usually very little) to spend learning a software well enough to teach it to their class and what technology is available for students to use. But as Dr. Shannon Schmoll stated earlier, teachers can use styrofoam and other resources like sculpy clay to create the builds. And of course good ole LEGOS work too. And if 3D modeling is not on the table you can still use Unity and just have students build with basic primitive mesh shapes or even use just planes with images of their artwork as textures. Then just drop in a prefab first person camera and let them run around to see their world. We had discussed doing tutorial videos on Maya and Unity and the whole workflow for teachers and students, but that would require more time and a next step in funding. I tell educators work with whatever is available to empower students to imagine and bring their ideas to fruition. And I am always delighted to talk with teachers about their classroom tech and what’s possible based on their classrooms and timelines.

     
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    patrick honner
  • Icon for: patrick honner

    patrick honner

    Facilitator
    Teacher
    May 10, 2022 | 10:19 p.m.

    This seems like a really fun and engaging integrated STEM project! Could you talk a little about how the project was adjusted to serve different age groups? You mentioned elementary students to high school seniors, and I'm wondering if different ages were approached with different goals in mind, or if it was the same goal with engagement at varying technical details.

  • Icon for: Shannon Schmoll

    Shannon Schmoll

    Lead Presenter
    Director of Abrams Planetarium
    May 10, 2022 | 11:14 p.m.

    Hi Patrick! It was more the same goal with different techniques of engagement. Throughout the curriculum we have recommendations on how it could be adjusted and it comes down to how scaffolded the experience is. For instance there are videos we made that teachers could show or just use as an outline for their own lecture to adjust for their students. We also used softwares like stellarium, world wide telescope, NASA Mars Trek for the space side of things. Denice Blair can talk more on the urban planning side. But we took screenshots of key locations/times/data etc that work better for younger students. However we suggest giving students the opportunity to explore using those themselves to explore their own questions more deeply. We also gave students 5 locations on Mars to choose from but that could be changed to just having a map and exploring in Mars Trek on their own. We had them work in groups and as a class to design the city but each student could also design their own building and work as a class to build a larger city with more buildings. We designed worksheets to scaffold student observations and arguments that could be simply replaced with a prompt for older students is another example. It a robust set of resources that can adjust for your students needs in the end.

     

    I will also note that having the screenshot/more scaffolded also makes it accessible to folks who have patchy internet and can't use the software.

     
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    patrick honner
  • Icon for: patrick honner

    patrick honner

    Facilitator
    Teacher
    May 11, 2022 | 06:50 a.m.

    Yes, that all makes sense in terms of flexible structuring. And yes, I can see how the more scaffolded material would give the resources a wider reach. Thanks!

  • May 11, 2022 | 09:14 a.m.

    This is an exciting project!

     

  • Icon for: Denice Blair

    Denice Blair

    Co-Presenter
    Director of Education
    May 11, 2022 | 10:37 a.m.

    Thanks for your comment, Seetha! We definitely learned a lot from the development process and working with the partner teachers and students. For me, the best part of the project was seeing the excitement, creativity, and depth of involvement from the students. They really got into investigating Mars and making informed decisions about their work.

  • Icon for: Gabriela Rose

    Gabriela Rose

    Curriculum Developer
    May 11, 2022 | 11:32 a.m.

    This is so exciting. I love the interdisciplinary nature of the project. And I also like that this can be implemented as a longer unit or as shorter activities, using software or building physical structures. That makes it super-flexible and something that can fit into many programs. 

  • Icon for: Shannon Schmoll

    Shannon Schmoll

    Lead Presenter
    Director of Abrams Planetarium
    May 11, 2022 | 01:01 p.m.

    Thank you so much Gabriela! That was the goal and our evaluation and our own experience did show that flexibility worked. 

  • May 11, 2022 | 02:08 p.m.

    Shannon, thank you for your post. Yes, our students (like yours!) definitely felt a sense of ownership over their work. That's one interesting finding that came out of our COVID adaptation research. We saw many benefits of students having their own robotics kits and building their own individual robots in their homes. In this situation, students could claim with full authority that they 100% designed and built their robot on their own! Although they received guidance from the collaborating preservice teachers and engineering students via Zoom, the 5th graders were the only ones to put hands on their robots. They could proudly proclaim, "I built my own robot!" We just finished another round of our project this spring, this time back in the schools (in an after-school setting). Instead of COVID companions, the students designed bio-inspired rescue or entertainment robots (e.g. a painting squid robot!). In previous iterations, students worked collaboratively to build a team robot. Based on our COVID research, we decided to have each student build their own robot, but still collaborate with their team to come up with the design. We will need to analyze our data to decide the merits of this approach in the normal face-to-face context. Any suggestions for us?

    Your World Building on Mars project clearly generated the same kind of excitement with the kids, and it was so needed during this time when COVID stripped kids of engaging hands-on activities. I love that it can be adapted from grade school through college. Congratulations on your exciting work!

  • Icon for: Denice Blair

    Denice Blair

    Co-Presenter
    Director of Education
    May 12, 2022 | 09:58 a.m.

    Thanks for watching our video, Jennifer! Your robotics project sounds really great. For project evaluation, we used a combination of student post-program surveys, teacher post surveys, and teacher focus group interviews. Data were analyzed with quantitative and qualitative methods. We worked with an evaluation consultant and collaborated with her on the question content, survey, design, etc.

  • Icon for: Alexander Rudolph

    Alexander Rudolph

    Facilitator
    Professor
    May 11, 2022 | 02:43 p.m.

    This is a very cool project and creative way to present engaging material in an on-line setting. I like how it brings together multiple learning topics (Mars, urban planning, etc.) to help engage the students in the somewhat abstract ideas about how Mars differs from Earth. You mention that the creation of the 3D model is not scalable to any classroom. Is there a particular reason why? I am also curious if you included the radiation environment on the surface of Mars as a design consideration. For example, did the students have to provide lead shielding in their building? Overall, nice project and video.

  • Icon for: Shannon Schmoll

    Shannon Schmoll

    Lead Presenter
    Director of Abrams Planetarium
    May 11, 2022 | 03:09 p.m.

    Hi Alexander. The 3D model environment was done by Stacey Fox and the pilot groups looks a lot of Stacey's time. So we cannot offer that ourselves. It is possible that students or teachers could do their own in another software. Stacey talks about it in a comment above. That is one area we have considered for future work is developing the materials/training for teachers to do that on their own and not require our team to help. So, it's more about time and resources from our team and to translate it to students and teachers doing it on their own they would likely need more support. If there's existing resources you know about let us know or if you have recommendations on how to support teachers and students to do it on their own, we would love to hear it.

     

    As for radiation, it was something we discussed with the students. It was part of the initial information they learned about regarding Mars as well as a part of the habitat design. We had the students watch videos of the NASA 3D printed habitat design competition and that is discussed in some of those videos. 

  • Icon for: Rebecca Vieyra

    Rebecca Vieyra

    Facilitator
    Associate Director of Global Initiatives
    May 12, 2022 | 12:44 a.m.

    Dear Shannon and Team,

    This is a great example of contextualized learning, and I'm sure the kids were highly motivated! I have a few questions about curricular alignment. (I tried going to the website, but I got a Error 20 / TCP timeout...my guess is the page is getting updated or the server is down for the moment). So, perhaps my questions will be answered once I can access the page.

    • Where did teachers place this module in their teaching? I'm curious as to how many teachers viewed this as something they could directly align with learning about particular science or engineering concepts/practices, or if teachers viewed it as a supplement--something that is always a struggle with novel, integrated ideas!
    • I know your project captured student work. Can you synthesize what you most feel students learned as a result of this project?

    Thanks!

  • Icon for: Stacey Fox

    Stacey Fox

    Co-Presenter
    Wizard In Residence
    May 12, 2022 | 03:04 p.m.

    Hi Rebecca!

    Another component used in the curriculum was music specifically written about Mars. And it was composed in a way so that classroom teachers could collaborate with music teachers in re-enforcing information on the red planet. Solar storms, finding water, Jezero crater, Rovers are all included. All the lyrics were researched and then run by scientists to make sure things were current. Here is the link to the website for the Songs of Mars Album. I don't think it made it into the curriculum PDF. Songs of Mars Album Stream

    I also incorporated into the online Mars Base builds 3D models of the Rovers and Ingenuity that NASA so generously makes available to the public. :) Thank you NASA!

     
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    Rebecca Vieyra
  • Icon for: Denice Blair

    Denice Blair

    Co-Presenter
    Director of Education
    May 12, 2022 | 10:08 a.m.

    Thanks for your comment, Rebecca! Since we had different grade levels involved, teachers used the module in different ways. I would say over all the content was used more to teach about space systems and less so for social studies (urban planning). The feedback we got from teachers is that it aligned very well with the standards and that they wanted to integrate it into future years. Based on the evaluations, what students enjoyed most (1) designing their city and (2) seeing the 3D model of their city. For content knowledge learning, they seemed to demonstrate better understanding of the Mars science than the urban planning.

     
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    Rebecca Vieyra
  • Icon for: Rebecca Vieyra

    Rebecca Vieyra

    Facilitator
    Associate Director of Global Initiatives
    May 12, 2022 | 12:44 p.m.

    Interesting! What kind of assessments did you use for the space science component, or was this more teacher anecdotes?

  • Icon for: Shannon Schmoll

    Shannon Schmoll

    Lead Presenter
    Director of Abrams Planetarium
    May 12, 2022 | 12:46 p.m.

    We had an external evaluator who asked the be students content questions as well as questions related to affect. They also conducted a focus group with our participating teachers.

     
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    Theresa Summer
  • May 15, 2022 | 11:20 a.m.

    This is a very exciting project. I find it fascinating that students were able to 3D model an entire environment with a complete lighting system in place. I wonder how much time was spent on teaching students how to 3D model objects. Can you share the approach for teaching students the software? Especially for students who may have been novice users of 3D modeling software.

  • Icon for: Shannon Schmoll

    Shannon Schmoll

    Lead Presenter
    Director of Abrams Planetarium
    May 15, 2022 | 11:42 a.m.

    Hi there. The students didn't do the modeling themselves. They sent us orthographic drawings of their buildings and a map of sorts showing the locations of their buildings. Stacey Fox then put it all together. That is something we would potentially like to explore. How do we support students or teachers in doing that? Otherwise one of otj teachers has had luck having them building a physical model using cups, eggs cartons, etc. 

  • May 17, 2022 | 12:44 a.m.

    Wow, your project is so intriguing! Thank you for sharing. I was curious about how your curriculum could connect with math :)

  • Icon for: Shannon Schmoll

    Shannon Schmoll

    Lead Presenter
    Director of Abrams Planetarium
    May 17, 2022 | 09:14 a.m.

    That's a good question! I think there's a few areas where you could go a bit deeper in math. One is we do have the students think about and draw their buildings from several different points of view. So they need to think about the shape of their building and so there could be some geometry involved. Another area is just comparing Earth to Mars and doing things like calculating the gravity difference, communication travel time at different times depending on the two planet's location, figuring out daylight hours for different latitudes, etc.

  • Icon for: Denice Blair

    Denice Blair

    Co-Presenter
    Director of Education
    May 17, 2022 | 10:01 a.m.

    Also, there would be opportunities to connect to math in the urban planning part of the curriculum, for example, talking about how land surveys are done, measuring population as a factor in urban growth and changes over time, comparing percentages of cities that are designated as certain zoning types, etc.

  • Icon for: Kristin A DiVona

    Kristin A DiVona

    Informal Educator
    May 17, 2022 | 10:59 a.m.

    Spectacular project. I could see art teachers also contributing here in so many ways— wayfinding design, real-life 3d model building, graphic design.

  • Icon for: Denice Blair

    Denice Blair

    Co-Presenter
    Director of Education
    May 17, 2022 | 11:03 a.m.

    Thank you, Kristin! You're right about the project opening up lots of opportunities for art integration. One of my favorite quotes from the teacher evaluations was someone who said her students who were interested in art, gaming, design, and other areas realized "there is a place for them in science." So great!

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