NASA Funded STEM Opportunity at MDRS for Teachers in Utah

Spaceward Bound Utah will host its final two MDRS cohorts in Fall 2024 & Spring 2025

NASA Spaceward Bound (SWB) is a popular and successful program to train K-12 teachers in how to engage their students in activities that will inspire careers in the space sciences by taking educators into the field with scientists who are working on space-related research in a given location.  First instituted by scientists and researchers at NASA Ames, today researchers involved in that early project are still holding Spaceward Bound field expeditions all over the world.

Spaceward Bound Utah is a 5-day workshop at the Mars Desert Research Station outside Hanksville, Utah where K-12 teachers from Utah will be able to experience what living on Mars might be like in the future.  The MDRS is a research facility that has been developed to simulate an early research base on Mars.  The campus includes a simulated spacecraft designed to land on Mars, which also serves as the living quarters for the crews when they are on site.  There is also an engineering bay, a greenhouse, a fully equipped science laboratory and two observatories on campus. Electric vehicles and spacesuits designed to mimic what astronauts would have on Mars are available for crews to explore the landscape surrounding the station, which is a true geologic Mars analog. The focus will be on in situ experiences that can be replicated in a classroom and allow all students to conduct activities and experiments that will be done on Mars. 

The Mars Society is looking for enthusiastic teachers interested in living and working under the same operational constraints that would be encountered on Mars, while participating in a workshop developed and led by educators. While priority will be given to full-time experienced middle school science teachers, all teachers and K-12 educators may apply.  Together they will develop classroom activities based on their experiences at the station.  This project is designed to give teachers insight into how to integrate the real science humans will need on the Red Planet with activities that can be conducted in the classroom and will adhere to current curricula standards and improve student outcomes. 

The Mars Society will be holding two sessions of this program in its final funding year.  The session for Cohort 6 will be held in October 2024 (final dates still to be determined) and for Cohort 7 in the spring of 2025 (from March 31 – April 6. Selected teachers will have their standard fees waived.  These fees cover room, board, and use of all facilities and scientific equipment. Travel (up to $500) will be reimbursed at their school’s travel rates or actual expenses, whichever is higher.  Teaching materials and science supplies will also be provided. 

If you are an educator at a school or educational center and are interested in participating in this SWB program, please contact Dr. Shannon Rupert, the Principal Investigator, at srupert@marssociety.org. Include a brief summary of your teaching background in your email, as well as a short description of why you would like to attend.  In addition, indicate the session(s) for which you are applying.  The program organizers may consider select teachers from outside Utah at our discretion.  Past participants interested in returning to MDRS are also welcome to apply.