The Abrams Planetarium, Michigan State University’s School of Journalism, and the MSU Museum have been selected to receive a NASA TEAM II Remote Opportunities Rapid Response grant. The project, “World Building on Mars,” will engage middle school students in urban planning and designing communities for living on Mars.
Denice Blair, Education Director at MSU Museum and key personnel on the grant, remarked, “The collaborative environment design will create a truly problem-based experience for middle school students, which will challenge them to integrate knowledge about Mars, history of the NASA Mars program, urban planning, and multiple grade-level STEM skills. We are very excited about this new NASA-funded partnership. The MSU Museum, the University’s science and culture museum, provides our visitors powerful interactions with science content. We have a great opportunity here to go even further by creating an amazing, Mars-focused STEM learning experience for middle school students and their teachers. We look forward to working with all the partners to develop this unique education program.”
The project aims to create virtual programming, based on an earlier program collaboration between the Abrams Planetarium and the MSU Museum called “The Martian Design Studio”. The program worked with a local non-profit to work with middle school girls to develop human settlements on Mars, by providing programming on the science and exploration of the planet and also on urban planning. This resulted in a temporary MSU Museum exhibition, where students displayed their projects for public view.
The NASA Grant will fund the next phase of this project, leading to the development of an interactive, immersive 360 simulation of the Mars environment. It will feature augmented reality components, such as 360 virtual and 3D renderings, bringing to life the student designs for human settlements on the planet Mars. It will be realistic and detailed, using NASA’s images from its rovers on Mars and the students’ conceptualizations for structures to sustain life.