Thursday, March 16, 2006

Mars Attacks! Roving

Another teacher and I took 30 kids to see Roving Mars today at the IMAX theater on the Upper West Side. We took a combination of my robotics students, her filmmaking students, and others handpicked based on their interest in things technological. It was a rambunctious group, made more rambunctious by the vast quantities of sugar they managed to consume before and during the trip, and it was not my favorite field trip as far as behavior was concerned. Also, as we walked home from the train station, we took a short cut between two housing projects, and a group of kids from another school began throwing rocks and sticks at us - at 30 kids and two teachers!

That said, the movie is awesome. It's short - only 40 minutes - but fantastic. About 10 minutes in, one of my students leaned over to me and whispered, "It's like being in the lab!" It is. It's narrated by the lead scientist on the mission, who does an excellent job of explaining what's going on, some of the challenges and joys of engineering and discovery, without dumbing it down. I think it's one of the best advertisements for being a scientist or engineer that I've seen recently. Plus, Spirit and Opportunity, the two rovers, become life-like as we see them being built, tested, and doing their thing, landing with a series of bounces, unfolding their wheels and arms, scanning the landscape and making decisions about how to navigate, boring into a rock to see beneath the weathered surface. These robots are ingenious and adorable.

Many of the kids liked it and had questions following. Several expressed an interest in becoming astronauts or working on robots.

*****

(At least) one child had never been on the subway before this trip.

2 Comments:

Blogger elementaryhistoryteacher said...

Enlighten me...I'm from the South. I thought if you lived in New York you rode the subway. How does a student get by without it?

I usually dread field trips but at least I don't have to walk through a housing project. I admire your bravery.

5:18 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

element...:
our subway lines run from many outer neighborhoods of NYC, through Midtown or Downtown or both. It is generally not a great way to move in or between outer neighborhoods, unless your trip parallels a journey to Midtown.

Many of our students rarely if ever take the train, and some find it intimidating. On more than one occasion in response to subway directions I've gotten "But isn't there a bus?"

Sort of how I felt about taking a car (until I finally gave in)

Jonathan

10:59 AM  

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