Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Processes of Science

Mars, a Case Study


This collection is unique in that it focuses on the eight practices of science and engineering from the NGSS standards. Photographs and the data they provide are important tools for scientists.

Understanding the nature and practice of science is important for the critical thinking skills required in the 21st century. This understanding is a key part of the Framework for K-12 Education in Science, is considered essential for learning science, and is one of the strands woven into all of the NGSS performance expectations.

In this collection, the investigation of water on Mars illustrates selected parts of the NGSS goals for understanding the nature of science and the processes of science and engineering. The collection illustrates how photographs are an essential data source for scientific investigation of remote and inaccessible locations, such as other planets.

Of the eight practices of science and engineering in the NGSS, students will model the following in the activities for this collection:

  • Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering)
  • Analyzing and interpreting data
  • Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering)
  • Engaging in argument from evidence
  • Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

The specific NGSS goals about the nature of science that are illustrated by this collection are:

  • Scientific investigations use a variety of methods.
  • Scientific knowledge is based on empirical evidence.
  • Scientific knowledge is open to revision in light of new evidence.
  • Science models, laws, mechanisms, and theories explain natural phenomena.

Students will use photos from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Mars Exploration Rover mission as a source of data, engaging in some of the practices of science while learning more about the Mars Rover mission, including the search for evidence of water.


Grade Level

Middle & High School

Classroom Connections

Earth and Space Science

Curriculum Snapshot

  • The nature and processes of science: what scientists and engineers do and how they do it
  • Using photographs to study inaccessible locations such as Mars


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Photos downloaded from the Essential Lens site are cleared for educational use only.

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