In the second week of December, as many of us are in the holiday rush, Kevin Berean, a teacher at Amity Middle School in Bethany, will experience Mars. Funded by NASA, Berean is one of eight middle school teachers in the United States to be selected for Spaceward Bound Utah, a 5-day workshop at the Mars Desert Research Station in Hanksville, Utah where he will experience what living on Mars might be like in the future. Spaceward Bound is an educational program organized at NASA Ames in partnership with The Mars Society and funded by the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters.
Kevin Berean, a Technology and Engineering teacher at Amity Middle School in Bethany, was selected for this unique program that trains teachers how to engage their students in activities that will inspire careers in the space sciences by taking teachers into the field with scientists who are working on space-related research. The Mars Desert Research Station is a unique research facility, which has been developed to simulate an early research base on Mars. It is complete with a mock spacecraft designed for landing; crew living quarters; an engineering bay; a greenhouse; a fully equipped science laboratory; two observatories; electric vehicles; and spacesuits. This program is designed to mimic how crews will explore the landscape surrounding the station, which is a true geologic Mars analog. The focus of the Spaceward Bound program will be experiences for the teachers that can be replicated in their classrooms enabling all students to conduct activities and experiments that will be done on Mars.
Kevin Berean’s role at Amity includes serving as Co-Chair of the School District’s Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Mathematics (STEAM) Committee and founder of the middle school’s highly successful Robotics and Engineering Research Program. In recent years Berean developed and implemented a Mission to Mars Unit for his students. This project has included an event with the Deputy Director of Education for The Mars Society; and several Mars virtual reality simulations are in the works to provide students a realistic glimpse of life and work on Mars. A space enthusiast himself, Berean first started his journey to bring Mars into the classroom by attending Space Camp in 2016 where he enhanced his knowledge of basic space-related endeavors with various simulations. Now facing 5 days in the Mars simulation Berean says he looks forward “to this unique opportunity of experiencing Mars and further inspiring my students into careers in STEAM. Traveling to Mars will be one of humanity’s next great steps; and by bringing it into the classroom we can engage the next generation in this pursuit.”