On May 25th, 2016, a group of sixteen 7th and 8th grade students from Evergreen Middle School in Cottonwood, CA, visited Ames Research Center to present the results of their year-long Mars research projects. The student presentations described their investigations of esker-like inverted terrain, and a mysterious depression in the Tempe Terra region of Mars.
During their visit to Ames, the students also toured the National Full-Scale Aerodynamics Complex (NFAC) 80- by 120-Foot Wind Tunnel, courtesy of Aeromechanics Branch Chief Bill Warmbrodt, and shared an inspirational talk and Q & A session with NASA astronaut Steve Smith.
Over the past eight years, Evergreen teacher Mr. Dennis Mitchell has collaborated with SETI Institute Senior Research Scientist at NASA Ames, Dr. Virginia Gulick, to introduce the middle school students to the science of the planet Mars, through the Mars Student Imaging Project (MISP) and Dr. Gulick’s MRO HiRISE instrument public outreach work. Just like the HiRISE team members, the Evergreen students request HiRISE images of Mars using HiWeb, the team’s image suggestion tool, analyze the returned images, and write captions for the images which are posted on the HiRISE website.
Teacher Dennis Mitchell stated “The experience for our very rural students is beyond words! We have very limited resources in the Redding area and getting to travel to NASA AMES, see scientists at work, and present their research to a panel of scientists helps them grow in so many ways! By the end of their experience they become pretty knowledgeable about Mars and their research topic. Dr. Gulick and her team are amazing. The HiRISE Images the students suggest are the coolest! And besides, what kid isn’t fascinated by NASA!”
Eighth grade student Jaidee M. added “I feel like a scientist! I have always loved space science and now I know I can go college and become an astronomer! My two years on the Evergreen NASA Team has helped me gain the confidence to follow my dreams. And I got to meet a REAL ASTRONAUT and eat lunch with real scientists!”