First astronauts to Mars now likely in middle school

First astronauts to Mars now likely in middle school

Students invited to design a Space Habitation Module for NASA


Artist’s conception of the Mars Excursion Module (MEM) proposed in a NASA study in 1963.

Lockheed Martin, a global security and aerospace company, has partnered with Discovery Education to launch the next phase of Generation Beyond, an initiative to use science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education to prepare today’s middle school students nationwide for deep space exploration.

Lockheed Martin has supported every NASA mission to Mars over the last four decades and is currently developing technologies like the Orion spacecraft to help NASA send humans to deep space destinations like Mars in the 2030s. Generation Beyond brings the science of space into homes and classrooms across America to engage students in grades 6-8 and help them prepare to make these missions a reality and pursue STEM careers.

The program, available at no cost, includes an online curriculum for teachers and families, with standards-based, digital resources such as lesson plans, educator guides and family activities. These resources will introduce a wide variety of STEM-focused careers in space exploration, compare and contrast differences between life in space and on Earth, and illustrate the challenges of a future Mars mission. The program also features these upcoming engaging opportunities:

  • GENERATION BEYOND STUDENT VIDEO CHALLENGE: Students will create a short one-to-two-minute video explaining how they would design the habitation module for the first crew to Mars. Students can enter individually or in a group of up to four members from now until December 15, 2016. A grand prize winning team or individual winner will win a $10,000 cash prize. Second place will receive $5,000; third place will receive $2,500. Participants can enter
  • VIRTUAL FIELD TRIP, SPACE WEEK – OCT. 4 at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT: During Space Week, which runs October 4-8, classrooms worldwide can participate in a virtual fieldtrip live from the Lockheed Martin Spacecraft Operations Simulation Center in Littleton, Colorado. Students will virtually meet Lockheed Martin experts, discuss their career paths and deep space exploration experiences. Attendees will learn how space flight leads to innovation here on Earth. Sign-up and program resources are available at:

“This program allows me to integrate these resources into my classroom instruction and spark students’ interest in space exploration and enhance their STEM skills,” said Patti Grammens, science teacher at Forsyth County Schools in Georgia. “Generation Beyond helps me to engage students in insightful conversations about deep space and introduce them to various careers in this field. These cutting-edge resources will make science relevant and exciting for my students.”

“Lockheed Martin has been involved in many NASA missions to space, and now we’re helping take astronauts farther into space than ever before. STEM careers take us there and so much more. For us to successfully design and navigate deep space missions, build cutting-edge aircraft and engineer solutions that help protect our nation, we must have the skilled workforce to get the job done,” said Stephen Frick, former NASA astronaut and Director of Strategic Planning and Operations at the Lockheed Martin Space Systems Advanced Technology Center (ATC).

Frick added, “We want to inspire kids to become the next generation of engineers and space explorers by pursuing STEM paths. Generation Beyond uses space exploration, an area that already generates excitement among young people, to show students how focusing on math and science will take them to places they’ve never dreamed, including another planet.”

In addition to the online curriculum, the Generation Beyond program includes the Mars Experience Bus, which takes students on a mobile virtual reality trip to the surface of Mars. The program also features the Hello Mars app, which allows users to check the weather on Mars in real-time. – PRNewswire. Main pic: Artist’s conception of a human mission on the surface of Mars 1989 painting by Les Bossinas of Lewis Research Center for NASA.

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