The Great Desert: Geology and Life on Mars and in the Southwest
A Training Workshop with Field Studies for Teachers, 6th–12th Grades · July 13–19, 2003

Mars today is a windy desert, scarred by impact craters, volcanos, ancient river channels, and fault lines. Mars appears lifeless, but who knows what hides beneath its dry surface? These Martian features have Earthly analogs in the deserts and mountains of Arizona and New Mexico — come explore these Mars analogs, and learn classroom exercises to bring Mars to 'life' for your students!

Sponsored by
The University of New Mexico
The Lunar and Planetary Institute
NASA Ames Research Center

NASA Office of Space Science Broker/Facilitators
New Mexico Museum of Natural History
Sandia National Laboratories

The registration deadline has been extended to June 4, 2003
(or until all available slots are filled, whichever comes first)

Please register using the link below. Payment must accompany registration. You will receive additional details by email when we receive your registration.

Electronic Registration Form

"The Great Desert" is a NASA-sponsored training workshop for science teachers, focusing on the geology and biology of Mars through analogies on Earth. Field studies will include the Grand Canyon, the Meteor Crater, Sunset Crater Volcano, the Jemez Caldera volcano and its hot springs, and faults of the Rio Grande Rift. At the University of New Mexico (Albuquerque), classroom learning will complement the field studies, and include up-to-the-minute results from spacecraft exploration of Mars. Tested classroom activities will help illustrate the field studies, and can be shared with your students, school, and district. The field and classroom work will be augmented by extensive background materials, activity plans, and references.


"The Great Desert" is designed for 6th–12th grade science teachers (especially of Earth Science, Biology, and Space Science). Preservice teachers, school librarians, early college instructors, and junior college instructors are also welcome.

The workshop will be taught by geologists, planetary scientists, and astrobiologists from the Lunar and Planetary Institute, the University of New Mexico, NASA Ames Research Center, and the New Mexico Museum of Natural History. The scientists will participate throughout the workshop, in the field, in the lab, and in the classroom; you will get to know the scientists, see how they work, and ask all the questions you want!

The scientist staff have taught similar workshops over several years. Please explore the Internet site of last year's workshop (Yellowstone National Park and Montana State University) to see what we offered! Our training experience also includes a workshop at Washington's Channeled Scablands as an analogue for Martian flood channels; and two workshops through the Cascade volcanos and Oregon lava fields to explore planetary volcanism. Feedback on these workshops has been enthusiastic, and most teachers report that their curricula are invigorated, and energized with many ideas, samples (manipulatives), and images.

Where and When?

"The Great Desert" will start in Albuquerque, NM in early morning on Sunday July 13 and we will travel directly to Grand Canyon National Park. We will spend two nights at a lodge in the Park, and return to Albuquerque. Housing there will be in the UNM dorms. From Albuquerque, we will take a day trip north towards Los Alamos, NM and back. The workshop will finish in late afternoon of July 19, 2003. A preliminary itinerary is given below.


The registration fee for "The Great Desert" is $600 per person — this includes travel during the Workshop, lodging (double occupancy), one meal per day, and background materials. It does not include travel to and from Albuquerque, nor lodging the night before the workshop. Registration is limited to 40 teachers.

Assistance in funding your participation can be sought from your school district, professional development organizations, your state's NASA Space Grant Consortium, and regional members of NASA's Office of Space Science Support Network. Contact information for the latter organizations can be found at

Clock hours or academic credit can be available through the University of New Mexico as continuing education.

Please call or email if you need additional information. I hope you can join us in "The Great Desert!"

Allan Treiman, Ph.D.
Workshop Coordinator
Lunar and Planetary Institute


Preliminary Schedule
Sunday, July 13 Depart from Albuquerque. Travel to Grand Canyon National Park, with geology field stops and in-bus instruction. Evening viewing of Grand Canyon and stars.
Monday, July 14 Grand Canyon National Park
Tuesday, July 15 Depart Grand Canyon. Stops at the Meteor Crater and Sunset Crater Volcano. In-bus instruction and entertainment. Return to Albuquerque, check into dorms.
Wednesday, July 16 Classroom instruction and activities.
Thursday, July 17 Classroom instruction and activities.
Friday, July 18 Depart from Albuquerque for field study of Valles Caldera complex volcano, its hot springs, and faults of the Rio Grande Rift. Return to Albuquerque.
Saturday, July 19 Classroom instruction and activities. Evaluation and assessment. End workshop late afternoon.

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Copyright Allan Treiman, LPI.
Updated 02/14/03.
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