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Getting Dirty on Mars

Getting Dirty on Mars

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Getting Dirty on Mars

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  1. Getting Dirty on Mars Students will... • Work in cooperative groups to collect soil samples from the field similar to NASA’s robotic Phoenix Mars Mission. • Understand and investigate the properties of soils.

  2. Some interesting video on Mars exploration • • •

  3. Why Is Soil Important? • We experience soil every day of our lives. When we talk about soil, we are usually talking about the thick layer of dirt that covers the natural ground. • Soil is a critical component of Earth’s ecosystem. Why? Turn to your elbow partner and discuss some of the reasons. • How is soil important to our water? To our physical planet? Talk to the person across from you about possible answers. • Soil is equally important on Mars. Just as on Earth, the pedosphere (the outermost layer of a planet’s surface, primarily composed of soil) of Mars can tell us a great deal about the planet’s history and whether life could have or could in the future support life.

  4. The outcrop right next to where Opportunity landed holds evidence that the rocks have spent time drenched in liquid water. 09.03.10 -- Experiments prompted by a 2008 surprise from NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander suggest that soil examined by NASA's Viking Mars Landers in 1976 may have contained carbon-based chemical building blocks of life.

  5. Student Lab procedures • Read pgs. SG1and 2 in the student lab procedures in the provided lab manual with your table group. Answer the following questions from your reading in your notebook or on a separate piece of paper: • What is the mission of the Phoenix Lander? • Describe the types of fieldwork and lab work discussed • How will your fieldwork mimic that of the scientists?

  6. KWL Activity (about 15 min.) Read the Introduction on pg. SG3 and answer the following in your notebook. • How is Mars similar to Earth? • What is NASA’s strategy for exploring Mars? • What do scientists want to explore by following the water? • Follow the instructions on the KWL activity, writing all information in your notebook and using the provided soil sample and white paper. Complete all instructions on pg. SG3 and 4.

  7. Tuesday September 13 Welcome back Learning Targets for today: • Learn how to collect soil samples from the field similar to NASA’s robotic Phoenix Mars Mission. • Understand the properties of soils.

  8. Fieldwork (pg. SG-5) Soil Context Read through the context information on pg SG-5, make sure that you understand the terms before we go outside to collect. Ask questions to clarify!!! You will be collecting the context information for each sample, recording it on the “soil context cards.” Each card should be kept with its sample.

  9. Fieldwork (SG6) • Read the introduction to Activity 2 of how the Pathfinder and Rovers collect samples. • Read through how we will retrieve our soil sample. Ask questions if you don’t understand. Special notes: -We will be substituting plastic cups for the laundry scoop -mark your bags before we go outside with initials and period number. -when we return to class you must complete the soil moisture (part 1) and soil color tests before we leave today as you samples can not be dried out to get an accurate reading.

  10. Recording today’s fieldwork You should record information from today on the data cards and keep these with your soil sample. You should also record the soil context description, soil moisture content and soil color in your notebook using the Data log sheet as an example.

  11. Soil Moisture Content Read the instructions on pg SG8 and follow the instructions with the following changes. Instead of paper plates and towels please use the plastic trays found on the round table Once you have completed your measurements (make sure to subtract the weight of the plastic boat from your total weight to get the wet mass weight) and have determined the soil color (pg. SG9) place the boat and sample in the window sill to dry.

  12. Soil color • Read the information for soil color on pg SG9 and follow the instructions. Make sure to use the Munsell Color Code System which is Appendix 1 in the back of the lab booklet. • Use the dissecting scope or your eye to compare the soil color, make sure to note if the soil is moist or dry and how much organic material you see.

  13. Day 3 Agenda • Safety quiz • Complete Activities 3-9 • Homework: Develop a creative way to learn the keywords in the back of the lab manual (a keyword story?) so that you remember the words. Learning targets-I can test soils for 9 different criteria and use the results to describe a soil sample -I can compare how I can test soil properties and apply it to what scientists do in space.

  14. Lab work • Activity 3-part 3. If your soil is dry follow the instructions on SG-10 • Read the information on pg. SG11 and answer the following in your notebook • What are the cameras on the rovers and why are they important • What do the two cameras on the Phoenix Lander do?

  15. Lab work Follow the instructions for Activities 4-9 on pages SG-12 through SG-17. Notes: • You do not need to do all activities in order. • Use the dissecting scopes in place of hand lenses. • Supplies are at the lab stations and on the circular table in the front of the room. • Ask questions and work with each other. • Clean-up and return all supplies where you got them.

  16. September 15 • Quiz • Complete Soil Lab/do not yet do Soil Report • Keywords homework • Talk about project-We will be going to the library on Wednesday • Dirt the Movie: Focus question: Why is dirt important? Learning Target: -I can test soils for 9 different criteria and use the results to describe a soil sample -I can compare how I can test soil properties and apply it to what scientists do in space.