Prior to our Skype call, my students participated in several lessons providing them with the background knowledge necessary to have an intelligent conversation with Dr. Lee. They prepared for our trip to Mars, spent 8 months traveling, and landed on Mars near the north
That being said, we wondered if we had been making wise choices or if a NASA scientist would tell us that we would have probably died already! Enter Pascal Lee.
My students had some amazing questions for Dr. Lee:
- "Was landing near the north pole a smart decision?"
- "How will we make oxygen?"
- "What should we do first: build our habitat or get plants growing?"
He was able to tell us that we have used solid logic for many of our decisions, and that in the year 2150 (when our simulation is supposedly taking place) much of the technology that we are relying upon would likely be possible. He reaffirmed much of what we thought and made us feel smart about our ideas! Because of all of this, we had to take some time to thank him for his time and interest in our project!
I told my students that we needed to:
- express our sincere appreciation for Dr. Lee's time and dedication to our simulation,
- explain some of the things that we learned about during the 90 minute lesson, and
- describe some of the things we were surprised about discovering.
Little did I realize how important a simple thank you email could be for my students' learning! Taking the time immediately following our Skype session was time very well-spent, because they solidified their learning by reflecting upon it so quickly after learning it!
Here are some examples of my students' emails...
I like how Emma's email had a great balance between showing sincere appreciation, explaining what she learned, and reflecting on her favorite parts of our Skype session, all in a well-written and organized email.
Jack was telling the truth about his jaw dropping - it's not hyperbole! I remember glancing over at him and seeing him drooling (literally) because he was so excited to get to Skype with a real NASA scientist!!!
Annie not only did an outstanding job of recording things that she learned, but she also showed strong synthesizing skills by expressing her understanding that allowing the sand to pile up on our buildings would actually be beneficial to our health!
Connor made strong personal connections and explained them well. It is clear that parts of this experience changed him in certain ways. I appreciate the glimpse into his thinking!
Ethan expressed his excitement by identifying his next steps (telling his parents what he learned) & he saw value in taking three pages of notes independently without anyone encouraging or requiring him to do so. His is becoming more self-motivated each day!
Charlotte is still processing what she learned from the Skype session, but has already decided to shift gears from building something to trying to get plants to grow for food based on his comments.
I love how Luke was discerning enough to not believe everything that he reads online, but is confident enough to admit he judged that website incorrectly. I
also love the sincerity in his voice.
This email shows me that going deeper with our studies, rather than wider, has been a smart move as my students are able to be "surprised" by new information that causes them to admit they were incorrect & want to make changes on their own! Woohoo!
Click on each email below to see a larger version of it...
To see some of the work students have created so far, check out our creations page.
To see how this simulation fits into our unit on the Constitution and U.S. Government, check out this page.
To see more pictures from this day, check out our Daily Photo Journal page here.
Here is a clip from our Skype with Pascal Lee...