Countless scientists and engineers made the arrival of NASA’s new “Curiosity” rover on Mars possible, both by laying the groundwork in previous missions and by building, launching, landing the rover for this latest mission. The name “Curiosity” is an appropriate one, because at some point everyone who worked on this mission must have had their curiosity about science sparked enough that they decided to become a scientist. And it’s the human trait of curiosity that drives us to explore other planets and learn more about our universe, and inspires us as we read about the discoveries being made.
With our latest expansion to our middle school science curriculum, we’re hoping to play a part in passing that scientific curiosity on to the next generation. In middle school, most students still have a natural excitement for science. It’s the perfect opportunity to expand on that enthusiasm and build a strong foundation in science for high school, college, and eventually for possible careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
We’re very excited about this release because we’ve added tons of engaging new activities (see news anchor Robyn Johnson get grossed out about a dead buffalo head as she reports on decomposers!) and dramatically expanded the depth and breadth of our content. Students will be able to dive deeper into science, learn about STEM careers (such as mechanical engineer, astronomer or astrophysicist), and they’ll have many more opportunities throughout our courses to practice critical thinking skills, reading and analyzing scientific nonfiction, and explaining their understanding through writing assignments.
Some highlights of our new release:
- 45 new interactive Flash activities expanding on key topics, including Forces, Evolution, Ecology, Chemical Reactions and Human Interactions with the Environment
- 45 new quizzes
- 187 new Odyssey Writer, Odyssey Community and Authentic Tasks throughout the Middle School Science courses
- New Authentic Tasks that engage students in possible STEM careers.
We hope you’ll check it out!
I’ll leave you with three fun facts about the Curiosity rover:
- The wheels of the rover write “JPL” in morse code in the Martian dust as they roll (Cal Tech’s Jet Propulsion Lab manages NASA’s robotic exploration of Mars).
- Sixth-grade student Clara Ma, who won an essay contest with over 9,000 entries, named the rover “Curiosity.” Clara also got to sign her name on the rover before it launched (how awesome is that?)!
- It took about seven minutes for Curiosity to land after it reached Mars, but it took nearly twice that long for signals from Mars to reach Earth at the time of landing! So mission control had no way to control the landing and had to wait just like the rest of us to see if it was successful or a disaster (about half of all missions to Mars have failed).
At Compass Learning, we LOVE fun facts about science! Have any? Please share them with us in the comment section. We’ll tweet them for you!