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Angry Red Planet - A Science MysteryGo to Home Page

FOR TEACHERS

WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
You, the reader, are helping with a simulated flight to Mars. In this simulation, four "bionauts" are sealed into identical pods containing plants, animals and water. The goal is for them to survive for six months receiving no water, food or air from outside. Your role: you monitor the conditions in each pod, simulating Misson Control back on Earth.

Our story begins on the 34th day of the simulation, when you notice something wrong in one of the pods. The oxygen is getting low - why?

THEMES
Besides the usual Science Mystery themes (literacy, inquiry-based learning, problem-solving logic, inductive and deductive reasoning), "Angry Red Planet" puts your students hands-on with facts about respiration, ecosystems and ecological cycles, chemical and biochemical reactions, carbon dioxide poisoning, and the effects of stress on human physiology and psychology. They must learn how to read graphs and evaluate data to solve the mystery.

FORMAT
The "Angry Red Planet" science mystery has three parts. In the first part, you meet the characters and enter the story. In the second part, you interview the characters and investigate the facts. In the third part, you attempt to solve the case; when you do, an epilog concludes the story and gives you links for further research into the story themes.

LENGTH
It takes an average reader about 20-30 minutes to get to the "solve-it" page, and 10 minutes or less to solve the mystery and read the Epilog.

SOLVING THE MYSTERY
Teachers can assist students in mastering the problem-solving skills necessary to solve a science mystery. Some basic techniques:

  • You should have a pen and notebook at your side, to take notes as you go through the story.
  • You should organize and label your notes as you go, under broad categories such as "Possible Causes," "What the Graph Says," "Sequence of Events" and so on.
  • Evaluate your information. Is this a fact or an opinion?
  • Be observant! The mystery has visual clues.

IS IT TRUE SCIENCE?
The narrative itself is fictional, but the scenario is based on actual events and contemporary science research and discoveries.

HOW DO TEACHERS
USE THIS MYSTERY?

Science mysteries such as "Angry Red Planet" integrate science learning within an exciting narrative. They have wide appeal and are thus well-suited to be a class activity.

Typically a teacher will have students read and discuss the mystery during a class period. Some teachers solve the mystery as a class; others allow students to solve the mystery and do continuing research on their own.

Many teachers use the science mysteries to engage advanced students, especially those who may normally shun science.

To read teacher comments about the science mysteries, visit www.sciencemystery.com.

To see the other science mysteries available at Access Excellence, visit the Mystery Spot: www.accessexcellence.org/AE/mspot

We appreciate your feedback.

 

AN ACCESS EXCELLENCE SCIENCE MYSTERY • ABOUT THIS STORY

 
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