Farah Alibay conquering Mars

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Perseverance: this is undoubtedly one of the greatest technological and scientific advances in our history. Behind the controls of this robot, we find the Quebecer Farah Alibay. Zoom on a historic expedition to the heart of the planet Mars!

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The main activities aim to:

Approximate duration:

👀 Background 

Perseverance: this is undoubtedly one or even THE greatest technological and scientific push in our history.

Persévérance est le nom du 5e robot à être envoyé sur la planète Mars, après Pathfinder (1997), Spirit (2004), Opportunity (2004) et Curiosity (2012). Il pèse une tonne, est muni d’un bras robotique de deux mètres et possède plusieurs caméras et micros haute définition. L’objectif de ce « rover » est donc d’étudier le sol et l’environnement sur Mars pour tenter d’y trouver des traces de vie. Un petit hélicoptère pourra aussi survoler des endroits inatteignables par le robot. C’est la première fois qu’on réussit à voler sur une autre planète! Cette mission coûte environ trois milliards de dollars canadiens.

Après un long voyage de sept mois, Persévérance s’est posé sur Mars le 18 février 2021. Dans la centaine de personnes qui participent à cette expédition, il y a Farah Alibay, une Québécoise. Elle est ingénieure en aérospatiale pour la NASA et s’occupe particulièrement de piloter le robot lors de sa mission. L’atterrissage a duré environ 7 minutes. Pour l’équipe de la NASA, c’était le moment le plus stressant du voyage. En cas de problème technique, la mission aurait pu se terminer assez rapidement :

Here's a shot of Perseverance's landing:

Perseverance landing plan / Wikipedia

Below are images captured in 360 degrees by Perseverance during its landing on Mars:

The following activities will allow students to learn more about Farah Alibay and the motivations of humans to explore Mars in hopes of finding signs of life.

☝️ Activity: Piloting a robot on Mars, even from a distance!

Objective :
- Find out who Farah Alibay is and learn about the objectives of her mission on Mars.

Targeted dimensions of digital competence
- Develop and mobilize technological skills
- Communicate using digital technology

Activity 1 is an opportunity for students to learn a little more about Farah Alibay and her mission to Mars.

But who is Farah Alibay exactly? What is her background? This first challenge consists in finding information on this young Quebecer who works for NASA and to bring out some key elements of her background.

Here is a video to start with that includes nine open-ended or choice-of-answer questions to view in a large group. To add it to your Edpuzzle account and assign it to your students, click on this link. This will give you the opportunity to record student responses and provide them with feedback.

Then, here is an interesting article which presents a NASA interview with Farah Alibay. It is in English, but it is possible to translate the page into French using Google Translate, for example, for better understanding. Why not work with the ESL teacher?

To organize the information learned and share it, students could create a presentation using digital tools such as PowerPoint, Google Slides, Canva or something else!

☝️ Activity: Mars, the red planet

Objective :
- Acquire new knowledge about the planet Mars through a quiz.

Disciplines and levels targeted
- Science and technology (lower secondary)
Space: Conditions conducive to the development of life
- Science and technology (3rd cycle of elementary school)
Solar System: Recognize the major components of the solar system (Sun, planets, natural satellites); Describe characteristics of the major bodies in the solar system (e.g., composition, size, orbit, temperature)

Targeted dimensions of digital competence
- Develop and mobilize technological skills

This activity is an opportunity for students to learn more about the planet Mars and its specific characteristics. To add this exercise to your LearningApps account, click on this link. You will be able to share it with your students using the method you prefer.

✌️ To go one step further : Mars, closer than ever!

Targeted dimension of digital competence
- Producing content via digital technology

Finally, it is time for the students to present their new knowledge about Mars. We propose to use one or more digital tools that the class is used to working with.

With Flipgrid for example, offer them to record a video to showcase their new knowledge about the red planet. Here is a "topic" that can be shared with the students using this link. To be able to add this topic to your Flipgrid account and provide feedback on your students' videos, you need to use this link.

If you want to create an infographic, there are several tools to discover in this directory.

🔎 To learn more

A Quebecer pilots a robot on Mars
Update, February 18, 2021

12 key figures on Perseverance, the rover due to land on Mars tonight
Futura Sciences, February 18, 2021

A little Perseverance… on Mars!
Jonathan Le Prof, February 23, 2021

Farah Alibay
NASA Science

Farah Alibay, our Quebec star at NASA
Radio-Canada, February 24, 2021


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Designed to fill short periods or inspire larger projects, the activities offered in the SCOOP! allow the teacher to approach the subject matter in the program in addition to developing the information literacy and digital skills of the students.

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