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?
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.
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
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
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