Letter to the Editor

Destination Mars Virtual Mission touches down at South School (RSU 13), inspires students to reach for the stars

Fri, 03/29/2024 - 5:00pm

South School is thrilled to announce the successful completion of the Destination Mars Virtual Mission, an exhilarating educational experience that brought the wonders of space exploration directly into the classroom on Wednesday, March 27th. Students embarked on an unforgettable journey to the Red Planet, engaging in hands-on learning and immersive simulations that sparked their curiosity and ignited their passion for space science.

The Destination Mars Virtual Mission, developed by the Challenger Learning Center of Maine in association with NASA, captivated students with its cutting-edge virtual reality technology and engaging content. Students in 4th and 5th grade worked collaboratively in teams, simulating the roles of mission control specialists in charge of navigation, rovers, surface conditions and geology, as they explored the two Martian moons, Phobos and Deimos, tackling challenges akin to those faced by real-life space explorers.

"We are delighted to have hosted the Destination Mars Virtual Mission at South School" said Amanda Downer, South School science teacher. "The experience was truly out of this world, providing our students with a unique opportunity to deepen their understanding of space science while developing important skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, and teamwork. The kids were very engaged, asking thoughtful questions, and one student commented, ‘Wow, it felt like I was part of NASA for a little while!’"

Throughout the virtual mission, students were guided by experienced educators and space experts who provided insights into the science and technology behind space exploration. From analyzing data to making crucial mission decisions, students were immersed in an authentic simulation that brought the excitement and challenges of space exploration to life. A follow-up presentation will share with students the big picture of career possibilities in space exploration.

"The Destination Mars Virtual Mission was a tremendous success, inspiring students and fostering a sense of wonder and curiosity about the universe," said South School’s principal Hillary Arroyo. "By bringing the thrill of space exploration directly into classroom, we hope to empower the next generation of scientists, engineers, and explorers to reach for the stars."

For more information about the Destination Mars Virtual Mission, please visit https://www.astronaut.org/destination-mars/

RSU #13 is a learning community that ensures a safe, inclusive, and responsive culture that fosters relationships and the academic, social, and emotional growth of all learners. The district is comprised of four elementary schools - Ash Point Community School in Owls Head, Cushing Community School in Cushing, South School in Rockland, and Thomaston Grammar School in Thomaston – Oceanside Middle School in Thomaston, and Oceanside High School in Rockland.