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PLHS students 'visit' Mars with Buzz Aldrin map

Mars map at Papillion La Vista High

Papillion La Vista High students learned about Mars in a “big” way. In partnership with former astronaut Buzz Aldrin’s Share Space Foundation, PLHS astronomy teacher Doug Showell brought Mars to life through a giant (25 ft x 25 ft) map. 

The students used iPads to look up real-time information about the planet. 

Media Specialist Liz Von Nagy said it was fun watching kids explore Mars in a really hands-on way. 

"Basically they have the opportunity to see all of the highs and lows of the mountains on Mars and do it in a way that incorporates technology meaningfully and play with robots," she said.

The map was loaned to PLHS from the University of Nebraska Omaha Aim for the Stars, it is one of 50 that exist in the country. 

Having the map at PLHS is a really unique experience for students, Von Nagy said. 

"I think we are lucky to have Mr. Showell here, who can bring all of these really unique materials, so they can have a different educational experience."

Doug Showell is a science and astronomy teacher at PLHS.

He gave the students round robots to trace where the students "crash-landed" to where their home base was where the rovers were.

Showell explained he feels it is important for students to learn about the red planet.

"It's a place where they could go in the future, a lot of space exploration - the technology - rubs off on everything we do. It's good for them to know," he said. 

Buzz Aldrin likes to invite students across the country to learn more about Mars because as he says, who knows – the first person to set foot on Mars may be sitting in that classroom where this map is presented and Showell agrees.