An Idea from Public Insight Network

I got an email from American Public Media's Public Insight Network this week that I am trying as an Extra Credit Project with my English Composition class.  The question revolves around the Mars One project, which is about to start astronaut selection.  The question is "Would you stay or would you go?"  I posted the email with the links to the survey and related material on the class BlackBoard site, and also went over the materials and handed them out in hardcopy (I know, I know, not nice to the environment, but some of these students barely have the ability to post their assignments on BlackBoard, let alone branch out into the vast possibilities of the Great Cloud).  Their assignment for me is to answer the question and the follow-up, why or why not.  I'm thinking of following up in class on this with the question: What would you need to sustain you on Mars if you chose to go and were chosen?  I think this might make a good stepping off point for a unit on sustainability.

What do you folks think?  Any additional ideas are welcome.

Rita Mac Auslan

03/08/2013 1:22pm

This sounds like it could be an exciting way to get the students thinking on many levels. They may well come back to the table with rough ideas that could be categorized based on their experiences and explored strategically. They'll naturally begin with what they think astronauts and space-dwellers might need (there's an opportunity for research into what such existence would take). To encourage sustainability-based discussions, they could be nudged to look in the mirror: What would they give up? What would they want no matter what? Are there any deal breaking details to work out? Here is good opportunity for in-search and your springboard to sustainability. Nice!

If you have a blend of prospective majors in the course, they may almost want to break into groups to imagine features of this "new" cultural construct - from their likely perspective as a future engineer, health professional, sociologist, educator, etc. To move in a sustainability direction, stage two group work could mean swapping team members so there's a blend of "majors" represented and then they's have to share and see how their different constructs could blend into one.

This could be a neat way to have the students look at themselves, our world, and our future and critically consider what works and what they'd rather see happen. So many times we feel bound by the reality of our world, and this would free imagination to explore realistic directions - and promote some critical thinking and writing as well. :)


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