High School Lunar Research Projects
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is the purpose of this program?
A: The purpose of this program is to provide a data-rich, national standards-based, authentic lunar research experience that supports the high school curriculum and enhances skills and proficiency in science. This program also aims to help high school students understand pathways to science careers by giving them the opportunity to connect with scientist mentors.
Q: What’s involved in this lunar research experience?
A: The project is a team effort, including the team of students, the science teacher, the school guidance counselor, a practicing lunar scientist, and education staff.
Students conduct authentic lunar research that supports the science goals of the NASA Lunar Science Institute (NLSI), specifically the Center for Lunar Science and Exploration (CLSE) at the Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI) and Johnson Space Center (JSC). Students spend the first few months reading papers about lunar science, including the Moon’s formation, evolution, and geology. Students also explore data sets from lunar spacecraft missions. At the end of this period, students use their new found knowledge of lunar science to characterize the geology of a region of the lunar surface.
Guided by a lunar scientist mentor and CLSE educators, the remainder of the experience is dedicated to researching a lunar topic decided upon by students and their mentor. At the conclusion of their research, students give two presentations of the results of their research: one to CLSE scientists, educators, and mentors and a professional, conference-style poster presentation to a panel of judges. The panel of judges scores the presentations. The team with the highest score is given the opportunity to present their poster, in person, at a scientific meeting. At the meeting, students not only present their poster but also have the opportunity to meet with scientists, take a guided tour of a local research facility, and visit local science centers/museums. Three teams will be chosen as runner-ups. Their posters will also be put on display at the meeting.
Q: What content will my students learn about while doing one of these projects?
A: Students will learn about the current model of the Moon’s formation and current understanding of the Moon’s evolution. Students will also learn a great deal about lunar geology. More importantly, they actively participate in the process of science, applying science skills to propose solutions to authentic research questions.
Q: How will participation benefit my students academically?
A: The High School Lunar Research Project immerses students in the process of science from beginning to end. Students will ask their own questions, create hypotheses, collect data, analyze data to test their hypotheses, and draw conclusions from their analyses. By the end of the research experience, students will have a deeper understanding of the scientific process.
Q: Who can participate?
A: This program is designed for high school students, their science teacher(s), and their guidance counselor. It helps if the students have taken an Earth-Space Science course, but is not necessary.
Q: Why is NASA interested in high school students?
A: Students are the future! One of the key components of the NASA Lunar Science Institute is to inspire and train the next generation of lunar scientists. Why not start at the high school level?
Q: I don’t live near LPI or any of the NASA centers. Can I still participate?
A: YES! Meeting with mentors and/or LPI does not have to be face-to-face. Communication is done online through email and free videoconferencing or through good old fashioned phone calls.
Q: I don’t live near LPI or any NASA center. How do we communicate with our mentor and/or LPI?
A: Communication with mentors or LPI can be done via email or through a free videoconferencing software called Adobe Connect. (Teams will NOT need to download this software.) More information on Adobe Connect will be given before the start of the program.
Q: Will I be responsible for locating a mentor?
A: No. LPI will locate mentors and pair each school with a mentor. Please note, schools with multiple teams will be assigned ONE mentor.
Q: How many students can participate?
A: We recommend each team consist of 4 – 5 students with one (1) teacher and one (1) guidance counselor.
Q: Will the students’ research results be used by lunar scientists?
A: It’s quite possible the students’ research may be used, or referenced by, other scientists. By participating in this program, students will generate data lunar scientists are looking for. These data are necessary to better understand the geologic history and evolution of the Moon.
Q: Will students have the chance to interact with scientists?
A: Yes! Besides the lunar scientist mentor each team will be paired with, students will have the opportunity to participate in monthly presentations from other lunar scientists on the latest research in lunar science. Teams will be able to interact with scientists as part of these 30-minute presentations.
Q: How much does it cost to participate?
A: There is no fee to participate in this program.
Q: How much of a time commitment does participation in this program require?
A: Evaluation data reveal that time commitment varies between groups. We recommend that teams be prepared to spend at least 3 hours per week on the project.
Q: How long will the research experience take?
A: Our pilot program showed that the entire research experience can be completed in approximately 16 weeks. However, feedback from teachers suggested that the experience be spread out over the academic year due to student involvement in other extra-curricular activities.
Q: What kind of equipment is necessary to participate?
A: Each team will need at least one computer with Internet access, a webcam, and a microphone (that can be plugged into the computer). Basic office software such as Word and PowerPoint will be necessary. Any other software that may be required will be made available by LPI. The webcam and microphone are for needed for use during videoconferencing. The videoconferencing software we use is called Adobe Connect. This software DOES NOT need to be downloaded to your computer.
Q: How do I get my school involved?
A: Interested teachers will need to complete an online application. The online application for the 2012-2013 program will be available Spring 2012. Any questions before then should be directed to Andy Shaner at 281-486-2163 or firstname.lastname@example.org.