Instructional Plan that includes the 5 Es – Engagement, Exploration, Explanation, Elaboration, and Evaluation
We will use a variety and pictures from NASA to engage students in the possibility that water and ultimately life may exist on Mars. Students will be challenged to identify evidence that convincingly demonstrate that water exists on Mars. Is a picture that demonstrates clouds on Mars sufficient evidence to prove that water exists on Mars? What additional evidence may be necessary and what remote tools would need to be used to collect the data to support the existence of water on Mars?
We will provide students with additional possible sources of evidence for the existence of water on Mars. For example, NASA has many images of geologic features that suggest the existence of river channels on Mars. Students will work at stations to review the evidence and then develop arguments that support or refute the existence of water on Mars.
We will present a variety of ways that students could test for water on Mars. Some of the tests that students will learn include:
- Measuring the freezing point of water.
- Measuring the boiling point of water.
- Cobalt (II) Chloride Paper indicator test: CoCl2 (blue) + 6 H2O -> [Co(H2O)6]Cl2 (pink)
- Add a few drops to white anhydrous copper(II) sulphate: turns white to blue.
- pH test for water - use of a Pasco probe.
- Use substances that are known to dissolve in water such as salts like NaCl.
- Use of electrolysis to break water into its component elements of hydrogen and oxygen and then testing for these elements.
Stations will be set up for students to use these test to identify water and non-water samples
We will challenge students to determine which test is most useful in hostile and remote locations such as Mars. Students will develop an argument in support of one or more of the tests and then be challenged to conduct an activity in which they test their solutions using remote technologies. It may be a great idea to engage students in the challenge of actually testing water tests in remote situations using PASCO Probes.
Based upon the results of their investigations, students will create a poster display that argues and provides evidence for their solution to testing for water on Mars. Students will compare their results with the techniques that are used on probes like the Phoenix.
Students will develop a persuasive essay in support of a chemical/physical test for the presence of water on Mars using a methodology that will work well in a remote and hostile environment.
Student products and performances
Students will develop both team generated and individual essays in support of chemical/physical tests for the presence of water that would be most effective in remote and hostile environments. Teams will produce posters that can be assessed and individuals will produce persuasive essays in support of their methods.
The formative assessment system will use a series of questions that engage students in process of evaluating the feasibility of using various chemical/physical tests for water in remote and hostile environments. Questions will be developed in collaboration at team meetings and then implemented within the context of the elaboration and evaluation component of the classroom experience. Students will use whiteboards to share their evidence in support of specific tests. Teachers will use this information to identify whether students understand the nature of the tests and can identify evidence to support the tests. Teachers will be able to adapt instructional processes to support student responses.