To build understanding of the essential needs involved in human exploration on Mars, the museum will create the Build a Mars Habitat – Survive and Thrive exhibit which allows museum visitors, especially school field trips and families with children in grades 4-8, to design and construct their own imaginary habitat for successful living on Mars using interchangeable building pieces. This would be designed to appeal particularly to girls, be accessible to audiences using a universal design approach, and be understood by Spanish-language visitors. Partnerships include the National Informal STEM Education Network (NISENet), NASA Ames Research Center, and NASA Marshall Space Flight Center. The project team will also develop professional development materials for both facilitated and unfacilitated experiences to accompany the exhibit. This immersive experience augments the existing “Sun, Earth, Universe” exhibit that was recently distributed to 52 science and children’s museums across the U.S. by NISENet, collectively reporting attendance of over 10 million visitors per year. The exhibition serves as a platform for scientists and museum staff and volunteers to engage visitors with additional facilitated educational programming and hands-on experiences. Anticipated STEM learning outcomes include audience’s increased interest and positive attitudes towards learning about space exploration, increase in informal education professionals’ capacity to engage public audiences in space exploration, and strengthened partnerships among NASA and museums.
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