Brave Bulletin
Black Line Volume 6
September 1, 2004
No. 3
Black Line
Black Line


Dr. Curtis working on public service outreach project

Tony CurtisDr. Tony Curtis (Mass Communications) is working with a local middle school in mass media, journalism, public relations and computer-mediated communications, involving space science and astronomy.

The program was developed by NASA’s Mars Student Imaging Project competitive team and consists of 40 eighth grade students at Marlboro County School of Discovery in Clio, S.C.

The Mars Student Imaging Project, sponsored by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and Arizona State University's (ASU) Mars Space Flight Facility, allows students from fifth grade through college sophomore to take their own research pictures of Mars using a camera onboard NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft in orbit around Mars.

The team will have opportunity to work for three days with scientists, mission planners and educators at ASU in Tempe, Ariz. The School of Discovery is a public magnet school with about 150 students.

“The teachers are very eager to broaden the horizons of their students,” Dr. Curtis said. “The lead teacher, Joan Wafer, found me by accessing the NASA JPL Solar Systems Ambassadors program Web site and then the UNCP Web site.”

“Before their school started this fall, I met with Mrs. Wafer, several other teachers and the school principal,” he said. “Then I met with the eighth-grade students.”

Dr. Curtis’ role includes: instructing students and teachers on the scientific method, space science, and research methods and design; teaching students how to write journalistic reports for mass media, research papers for sharing reports, and Web sites for public presentation; advising students working on the Mars imaging project competition,; orienting the students to the place of Mars in the Solar System; describing the history of Mars exploration with emphasis on NASA projects including Viking, Pathfinder, the Mars Exploration Rovers, Global Surveyor and Odyssey; explaining NASA and JPL structures in general and depicting planetary science with an emphasis on physical processes on Mars in comparison with those on Earth.

The School of Discovery student team will submit a science-research proposal, select a site on Mars for their research, receive an image of the selected site from the Odyssey satellite at Mars, and submit a final scientific report for publication in the on-line MSIP Science Journal.

With a strong written research proposal, the students could be selected to make either a three-day visit to the ASU Mars Space Flight Facility or else use distance-learning techniques including Internet video-conferencing, Web chats and teleconferencing.

The project curriculum is aligned with National Science Education Standards and fits within existing science curriculum. It teaches the required objectives and standards using real world science rather than worksheets or simulations.

The Mars Student Imaging Project is described at:

Dr. Judy Curtis also met with the teachers and principal and is helping the students with their proposal writing and publishing their results.