Activity 1: A Tool for Inquiry
Mars Exploration Project

What can I expect to get out of doing this activity?

The Mars Exploration Project uses experimentation, modeling, image analysis and Mars-Earth comparisons to provide students with the analytical tools and knowledge base for generating and investigating their own questions. In this activity, students create a physical model that enables them to study the ways flowing water affects a surface. This activity prepares students to look for water-shaped landforms in images of the Martian surface, and raises questions about whether water flowed on what today is a dry, frozen planet.
how long will it take?

5 hours total

  • Reading/Hands-On 1 hour
  • Initial Thoughts 1 hour
  • Local Study Group 1 hour
  • Further Reflection 2 hours
  • Assignments:

    mars tear image

    Estimated time: 20 minutes

    Read Activity 1 in the booklet Great Martian Floods (pp. 23-30), "How Does Flowing Water Shape a Surface?" Note how modeling and image analysis give students concrete experiences with the content and skill goals. Then, read Activity 2 to see how students can use a model as the basis of a series of experiments and investigate their own hypotheses.

    Activity 1
    TO DO Checklist

    __ Print this page!

    Readings & Hands On
    __ Read Activities 1 & 2 in Great Martian Floods.
    __ Try some of the modeling.

    Initial Thoughts
    __ Post your initial comments on Activity 1 and read some of the module-based discussion in the Mars Discussion area. Check out the personal Introductions and Tech FAQ discussions there too.

    Local Study Group Meeting
    __ Attend LSG meeting where colleagues share their new "tools" for inquiry.

    Further Reflection
    __ Visit the Mars Discussion area to read more of the dialogue and post additional comments.

    Estimated time: 40 minutes

    Modeling is a very important part of this curriculum. If you have some sand, a pitcher and a a planter tray, please do some of the modeling described in Activity 1, Part A. Follow Steps 1-10 in the Procedure, pages 27 and 28. To shorten the activity, use only two stream table angles, one above ten degrees and the other five degrees or less. See page 25 for the materials list.

    Look at the images of the Martian surface, especially images showing surface details such as Images 3-7 in the Mars Image Set. How do the shapes in the images compare to the shapes created in the stream table? Use Steps 1-4 in the "Applying the Model to Mars" activity, page 30, to guide your reflection. How did making a model affect your experience of looking at the images? Also, in reference to Activity 2, what is required to use physical models as the basis for an experiment?