CEDAR and the Challenger Learning Center of Kentucky (Hazard) established a partnership in April 2007 for the purpose of creating the Mars Invasion 2030-“From Coal Camp to Space Camp”, program for fourth grade students from the coal field regions of east Kentucky, southern West Virginia and southwest Virginia. 

The purpose of the program is for students to discover for themselves the many similarities between space science and coal mining, as well as between astronauts and coal miners. The program casts the students as the first humans that will colonize mars, which is expected to be sometime around the year 2030 when NASA might attempt to place humans on the red planet. The students will learn about the various skills involved in the establishment and operation of coal camps and then apply those skills in the planning, creation, and operation of the first camp, or colony, on Mars.

The program’s curriculum addresses parts of all seven core content domain areas of the Kentucky Department of Education’s Standards of Learning requirements. The program is DVD menu driven and will provide studies and activities for anywhere from two to four weeks of classroom work. This will be followed by a visit to the Mars Museum at the CLC in Hazard where they will participate in eighteen different hands-on activities based on science, math and technology.

At the end of these activities the students will view a video showing a retired astronaut and a coal miner conversing about the similarities of their background as related to their personal, educational and professional lives. They will focus on the similarities of their educational requirements and job activities as related to science, math and technology and discuss how all three are prominent throughout their respective fields. 

space planets.jpg

The desired outcome is for the students to see not only the similarities between space science and coal mining and the astronaut and coal miner, but to see that like space science, coal mining is a very sophisticated, honorable and important profession. The students will see that the mining industry offers careers that require advanced education in science, math and technology and that it also offers the opportunity for them to stay in their home region and enjoy a career that can provide them with a very high standard of living. The program was piloted in May 2008 and is continuing for 2019 - 2020 school year.

>> Link to Challenger Learning Center


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