Nasa's Maven reaches Mars, now its K12 STEM mission begins...

An artist's concept of Maven orbiting Mars. Credit: Nasa/GSFC

An artist's concept of Maven orbiting Mars. Credit: Nasa/GSFC

Nasa’s latest Mars orbiter, Maven, arrived at the red planet yesterday where it will begin its mission to learn how Mars loses its atmosphere to space. But Maven also has a mission here on Earth: to inspire a new generation of scientists and engineers. Maven’s outreach program focuses on giving teachers the resources they need to incorporate Mars science into their classrooms.

The Maven Educator Ambassador Project recruited 60 educators around the US to conduct teacher training workshops using lessons and course material developed by the Maven team. The lessons incorporate Mars science to teach magnetism and spectroscopy at the middle and high school levels.

Scientists at the University of Colorado Boulder lead the Maven project. The university’s annual Space Science Teachers Summit brings 30 middle and high school teachers to the campus for a week-long professional development program. In addition to learning about space weather and meteorites, the teachers attend a 3-day Maven workshop.

Maven’s elementary school outreach program Red Planet: Read, Write, Explore uses kids natural interest in space to improve literacy - especially in Spanish-language communities.