Victoria Minister for Education Martin Dixon
Education Minister Launches World-First Mission To Mars From Victorian Schools
Victor P Taffa
Victorian students will control a Robotic Rover on a ‘Mission to Mars’ from the comfort of their own science classrooms as part of an exciting world-first program.
Education Minister Martin Dixon today, 42 years to the day of the first man walking on the moon, launched the Robotic Mission to Mars program at the Victorian Space Science Education Centre (VSSEC) at Strathmore Secondary College.
“This incredible new program will put Victorian students ahead of the world in a learning ‘space race’.” Mr. Dixon said.
“This learning experience is beyond anything that even NASA has offered school students, and is testament to the creative, innovative and dedicated team at the VSSEC which is working tirelessly to deliver first-class science education throughout the state.”
The VSSEC has created an online Robotic Mission to Mars learning environment at its Strathmore base, complete with a simulated Mars surface, a remote-controlled Robotic Rover, and a Space Station Science Laboratory.
Years 9 and 10 science classes will now have the opportunity to engage in a Robotic Mission to Mars from their own schools by logging on to the VSSEC Mars space and manoeuvring the Rover across the Mars surface via their computer.
“The web-based software turns any school computer lab into Mission Control, and from there students can program the Rover to analyse rock, soil and atmospheric samples before collecting and interpreting the data.” Mr. Dixon said.
“In addition to learning about science and technology, this program develops students’ problem solving, critical thinking, communication and collaboration skills.
“But what makes this program particularly exciting is that it is delivered online, which means students in remote and regional locations can easily become involved without the barrier of distance.”
Mr. Dixon said the Robotic Mission to Mars complements the Victorian Coalition Government’s commitment to enhancing science and maths education in schools.
The Victorian Government is introducing 400 teaching scholarships for science graduates and also supporting schools, businesses, universities and TAFEs to work together to improve student achievement in maths and science.
The Victorian Government has also provided $29.3 Million in funding in the 2011-12 State Budget to support science and maths specialists who will work with Victorian primary schools.