Dr. Christine Royce, professor of teacher education, and Ship students are joining NASA on a mission to Mars this week. Using the landing of the Mars Perseverance rover, the class hopes to engage future classrooms in this world and beyond.

On Thursday, February 18 the rover will land on the red planet at 3:55 p.m. and Royce’s students will be tuning in. But first she wanted to build their excitement about the event.

“They will all be middle or high school teachers so they need to learn to be a little nuts and bring in current events,” explained Royce, a past president of the National Science Teaching Association.

With a virtual photo booth provided by NASA, her students took to Twitter and started engaging in a larger social media conversation about the landing.

“We had to wear red (since Mars is the red planet) and say something highlighting NASA’s mission for the Perseverance rover in a tweet,” said junior middle level education major Makena Foor.

Foor hopes to become a science teacher and was enthusiatic about the opportunities social media provides in terms of engaging with this historic moment in science. She’s excited for the landing, to learn what others are saying about it and anticipates how she’ll incorporate moments like this into her future classroom.

“I even had my dad participate because he is a business manager at my hometown high school. I wanted to show that not only students could be engaged in this, but also parents,” she explained.

Foor is thankful for the experience that will help her be a better teacher in the classroom and in remote and hybrid settings, another reason Royce included the assignment. But Foor is also thankful Royce brought the landing to her attention.

“I did not know the U.S. was putting another rover on Mars. I am so excited for the landing. I love living in a world with such advanced technology and being able to watch it happen,” said Foor.

Follow along with Makena’s tweets and the landing.