The Coolest Destination for Exchange Students: Mars


The Curiosity Rover took this composite self-portrait in the Rocknest sand patch on Mars. Credit: NASA

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) is launching a new type of exchange with a virtual field trip to Mars. ECA’s newest initiative, The Collaboratory, in partnership with NASA’s Digital Learning Network™, Google’s Connected Classrooms Program, and the U.S. Embassies in Buenos Aires and Managua, will engage middle school students from classes in Argentina, Nicaragua, as well as those in New Jersey, Texas, and Washington, D.C. in collaborative science activities.



The program will take place at the USA Science and Engineering Festival (USASEF) in celebration of National Science Week, in an effort to attract youth around the world to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.



This program advances President Obama’s 100,000 Strong in the Americas initiative to increase educational exchange across the Americas and aims to prepare future innovators in STEM, while strengthening a new generation’s capacity to reach across borders to solve shared problems. Many of the Nicaraguan students are participating in the English Access Microscholarship Program.



During the festival on Friday, April 25, 2014 from 2:00p.m.-3:00p.m. EDT (18:00-19:00 GMT), the students will connect via Google+ Hangouts to explore the Red Planet and hear from Mars subject matter experts. NASA will use current photos from Mars Curiosity and its Mars Yard to simulate the field trip. Lisa May, the Program Executive at NASA Headquarters for the Mars Exploration program, will serve as the host and John Feeley, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs, will make brief remarks jointly with Dr. Jim Green, NASA Headquarters Planetary Science Division Director.



The event will be publicly broadcast. Tune in to watch through the live Google+ Hangout here: http://goo.gl/tsYnZA, and ask questions via Twitter using the hashtag #MarsFieldTrip.


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