Source
Scholastic News Online

Scholastic News Online is a free resource with breaking news and highlights from the print magazine.

Available for grades 1-6, Scholastic News magazine brings high-interest current events and nonfiction to millions of classrooms each week.

Additionally, our subscribers have FREE access to Scholastic News Interactive, an exclusive online learning tool featuring digital editions, videos, interactive features, differentiated articles, and much more.


Artists's rendering of the Mars Odyssey spacecraft orbiting Mars. Graphic rendering of NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft, which students use to photograph Mars. (NASA)

Seventh-Graders Make Mars Discovery

Science class in California spots an unknown crater on Mars

By Zach Jones | June 23 , 2010
See the black spot in the red square? That's the pit crater discovered by students. (NASA / JPL-Caltech / ASU)
See the black spot in the red square? That's the pit crater discovered by students. (NASA / JPL-Caltech / ASU)

A class of seventh-graders in Cottonwood, California, has made headlines in the scientific world. These eagle-eyed Evergreen Middle School students, who were participating in a special NASA program, spotted an unusual hole on the surface of Mars.

Scientists now think the hole is a pit crater that leads into a buried Martian cave. It's estimated to be 620 feet wide and at least 380 feet deep.

The students were participating in the Mars Student Imaging Program. This special program lets students use NASA's technology inside their classrooms.

An Out-of-This-World Class Project

Students in the Mars Student Imaging Program are asked to think of a geological question about Mars to research. Then students can adjust the cameras on NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft to help answer their question.

"The students developed a research project focused on finding the most common locations of lava tubes on Mars," said their teacher, Dennis Mitchell. "Do they occur most often near the summit of a volcano, on its flanks, or the plains surrounding it?"

So the class pointed Mars Odyssey's cameras at lava flows near Pavonis Mons, a large volcano on Mars. That area of the Red Planet is rarely photographed.

Their photos revealed lava flows, as the class had hoped. But they also showed the unexpected pit crater.

"[The Mars Student Imaging Program] gives the students a good understanding of the way research is conducted and how that research can be important for the scientific community," Mr. Mitchell said. "This has been a wonderful experience."

An Important Discovery

The crater could be a very big discovery. Scientists have even visited the class to tell students why their discovery is so important.

"This pit is certainly new to us," U.S. Geological Survey scientist Glen Cushing told the class. "And it is only the second one known to be associated with Pavonis Mons."

Scientists are excited because unknown minerals could be hidden in these caves. One theory suggests ancient volcanoes created the tunnels. The tunnels then became hollowed out once the Martian lava cooled. Holes like the one Mr. Mitchell's class found are like skylights into these unexplored caves, Cushing explained.

NASA's Mars Odyssey has been in orbit since 2001. The spacecraft relays information between Spirit and Opportunity, the two rovers that roam the Martian surface to take measurements and pictures of the landscape. Who knows what students will find next with the orbiter's help?

VIDEO: Click here to learn more about NASA's Mars Student Imaging Program!

MORE NEWS FOR KIDS

Get the latest on national and international events, movies, television, music, sports, and more from Scholastic News Online.

  • Teacher Store
  • The Teacher Store  
    Scholastic Fact Room Grades 2–3

    Scholastic Fact Room Grades 2–3

    Meet the demands of the Common Core State Standards with an infusion of nonfiction and informational text!

    Fact Room provides teachers with a robust collection of nonfiction and informational text, along with easy implementation strategies for whole class, small group, and independent & paired reading instruction. Students will strengthen their communication, analytical, and research skills, meeting and surpassing the requirements of the Common Core State Standards.

    Grades 2-3 Fact Room includes:
    • 250 Titles (636 Books Total)
    • 2 CCSS Exemplar Texts (30 copies each)
    • 10 CCSS Informational Texts (10 Copies each)
    • 238 Informational Texts (2 copies each)
    • 1 CCSS Overview Card


    Download complete Title List.

    Visit Fact Room for more information.

    $3,305.00 You save: 25%
    Paperback Book Collection | Grades 2-3
    Add To Cart
    Educators Only
    Scholastic Fact Room Grades 2–3
    Grades 2-3 $3,305.00
    Add To Cart
  • Teacher Store
  • The Teacher Store  
    Guided Reading Content Areas 2nd Edition Grade 4 (Levels M-T)

    Guided Reading Content Areas 2nd Edition Grade 4 (Levels M-T)

    Available April 2016!

    NEW! Guided Reading Content Areas 2nd Edition will propel students into 21st century college & career success with new books and research-based instruction! Content Areas instruction is boosted with not only the latest in social studies books, but also essential STEAM knowledge students need to be engaged and successful in our ever changing world. With access to authentic informational text and books about careers at every level, students will acquire diverse content areas knowledge as they move through increasingly complex texts!

    What’s NEW?
    -Revised Teaching Guide brimming with research-based instruction including:
    -Including Content Area Informational Text in Primary Classrooms
    -Guided Reading in the Content Areas & Activating Background Knowledge
    -Text Dependent Questions
    -New authentic texts with titles on science, technology, engineering, arts, technology, and 21st century careers
    -New teaching cards for every title
    -More nonfiction than ever: 80% Nonfiction & 20% Fiction

    Signature Scholastic Guided Reading Features:
    -No title overlap with other Guided Reading programs
    -60 Trade Books per level (10 titles, 6 copies each)
    -Teacher’s Guide in every level
    -10 Teaching Cards with instructional suggestions for each title
    -Leveling Stickers
    -Attractive Storage Bins


    Visit the Scholastic Guided Reading Program website for more information.

    $2,999.95 You save: 33%
    Paperback Book Collection | Grade 4
    Add To Cart
    Educators Only
    Guided Reading Content Areas 2nd Edition Grade 4 (Levels M-T)
    Grade 4 $2,999.95
    Add To Cart
Privacy Policy
EMAIL THIS

* YOUR FIRST NAME ONLY

* FRIEND'S FIRST NAME ONLY

* FRIEND'S EMAIL ADDRESS

MESSAGE
Here's something interesting from Scholastic.com