Mars Rover Curriculum: Impact Assessment and Evaluation
Tuesday, 16 December 2014
The University of Houston is in the process of developing a flexible program that offers children an in-depth educational experience culminating in the design and construction of their own model Mars rover: the Mars Rover Model Celebration (MRC). It focuses on students, teachers and parents in grades 3-8. Students design and build a model of a Mars rover to carry out a student selected science mission on the surface of Mars. A total of 140 Mars Rover teachers from the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 cohorts were invited to complete the Mars Rover Teacher Evaluation Survey. The survey was administered online and could be taken at the convenience of the participant. So far ~40 teachers have participated with responses still coming in. A total of 675 students from the 2013-2014 cohort were invited to submit brief self-assessments of their participation in the program. Teachers were asked to rate their current level of confidence in their ability to teach specific topics within the Earth and Life Science realms, as well as their confidence in their ability to implement teaching strategies with their students. The majority of teachers (81-90%) felt somewhat to very confident in their ability to effectively teach concepts related to earth and life sciences to their students. In addition, many of the teachers felt that their confidence in teaching these concepts increased somewhat to quite a bit as a result of their participation in the MRC program (54-88%). The most striking increase in this area was the reported 48% of teachers who felt their confidence in teaching “Earth and the solar system and universe” increased “Quite a bit” as a result of their participation in the MRC program. The vast majority of teachers (86-100%) felt somewhat to very confident in their ability to effectively implement all of the listed teaching strategies. The most striking increases were the percentage of teachers who felt their confidence increased “Quite a bit” as a result of their participation in the MRC program in the following areas: “Getting students interested in and curious about science” (63%); “Teaching science as a co-inquirer with students” (56%); and “Continually find better ways to teach science” (59%). Student outcome analysis is pending correlation with final progress reports for the participating students.