MarsEd Teacher Spotlight:
Jean Pounder, Science Teacher at Westhill High School in Syracuse, NY
Jean has 19 years experience in teaching and inspiring high school science students in grades 9-12. She is an avid supporter of ASU Mars Education Program classroom lessons and activities. And she is passionate about inspiring her students through NASA missions content. We sat down with Jean to ask her about her participation with Mars Education and this is what she had to say:
Mars Education: Please tell us about your experience with Mars Education. Which activities do you think your students are most engaged with and why do you think that is?
Jean: We participate in the Mars Student Imaging Project. Through the project my students work as a collaborative team to study Mars by observing images taken by the THEMIS camera onboard the Odyssey Spacecraft. We do several of the introductory lessons on Martian features like impact craters and lava layering followed by using images to make observations. We have participated in both the onsite and distance learning options of the project. I think the students like these activities because they are hands on and they enjoy looking at many of the different images on the THEMIS site and in JMARS. They feel like they are real scientists doing actual research, not some canned lab that hundreds of student before them have done with the same results. They enjoy discovering something new.
Mars Education: How long have you been participating in Mars Education program activities? And what do you like about using these lessons in your classroom?
Jean: I have been using the activities for four years. I like that the lessons are fun, easy to use, and that the students actually enjoy learning while they are participating in the program. Former students often stop by to visit to make sure that I heard about a new discovery on Mars that they heard about in the news. They are becoming true life-long learners.
Mars Education: What do you feel your students are learning from Mars Education lessons and activities that has benefited them the most in their classes?
Jean: Through the activities of the Mars Student Imaging Project the students learn about Mars, but more importantly they learn skills for conducting scientific research, writing, inquiry and collaboration. Once the students participate in the project they become hooked on learning more about Mars. They take on more challenging topics and help each other along in the research process.
Mars Education: Did you engage in any professional development or training with Mars Education? If so, did you find it valuable and why?
Jean: I did attend one workshop that corresponded with the launch of Curiosity. It was a great experience to be able to interact with other educators and Mars scientists to learn about the numerous classroom activities that have been developed to use with the Mars Curriculum and how to adapt them onto my curriculum.