Whitesburg KY

From space camp to coal camp

MJP students learn similarities of two worlds

Students at Martha Jane Potter Elementary attended the “Mars Invasion 2030-From Coal Camp to Space Camp” at Hazard Learning Center last month. Linda Cantrell, led the expedition of fourth graders to Mars assisted by Lisa Giles and Twanna Hall.

The Mars Invasion was created and developed through a partnership between the Challenger Learning Center and CEDAR, Inc. (Coal Education Development & Resources). Funds donated by David and Susie Duff sponsored the visit.

The program shows how the disciplines of science, math and technology are connected in both space science and coal mining and how similar many of the job duties are for astronauts and coal miners.

In the classroom students participated in several activities beginning with a presentation by Jason Hogg from Jarissa Coal. He showed students how miners used maps, core samples and equipment to do their job. Students then used core samples made from cupcakes to examine what the Mars rovers might find on the planet. The class made the connection that coal samples are used to locate areas with enough coal, just as the rovers need to find an area that will supply enough water to sustain life.

Part two of the program focused on the importance of communication, habitat, and travel. Students built houses for the first explorers using recyclable materials. Included in the design were water and waste management areas, homes, green houses, recreation and more.

In the final part of the program, the class became aware of the many jobs and professions that would be needed for a group to live on Mars.

Students were fitted with hard hats and data logs. They were prepared for challenges that would be realistic to space travel. Students then visited several learning pods to complete activities. The mission ended with an interview between an astronaut and a coal miner.

“My class learned the connection that exists between the two very different careers,” said Cantrell. “They realized the importance of safety, good communication and technology. They also saw how necessary listening, team work and education are to being prepared for a career.

“We would like to thank Jarissa Coal, CEDAR, and our sponsors for sponsoring our trip to the Challenger Learning Center,” added Cantrell. “This was an outstanding learning experience that we could not have had without their sponsorship. We are also thankful for the crew at the Challenger Learning Center in Hazard for the fantastic voyage. “

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