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“I want to give our middle school students the desire to go farther and to dream,” said Laetitia Bonnet, math teacher at the Louis Pasteur Middle School in Lavelanet, in the Ariège department (Occitanie region).


Enthusiastic, dynamic and involved, the math teacher worked with two other 8th grade teachers on a project to increase their students’ awareness and to get them mobilized on the subject of the exploration of the planet Mars. This subject has been in the news with NASA’s launch last November of the InSight probe designed to listen to the Red Planet’s heartbeat. A team of researchers at ISAE-SUPAERO worked on this scientific mission, contributing to the development of the instrument model and the scientific software, as well as working on the production of the SEIS seismometer and data analysis and exploitation.

Above and beyond this scientific involvement, ISAE-SUPAERO also developed an exceptional educational project as part of its student social diversity program “OSE l’ISAE-SUPAERO”, in a partnership with the Academy of Toulouse and 22 participating schools. The stage was set for launching and transporting some 45 middle school students from Lavelanet.

Photo soirée OSE - InSight
OSE - InSight mission, April 18th, 2019

“With my colleagues, we defined and undertook cross-cutting work on the topic of the exploration of Mars in various disciplines. For example, the Physics teacher looked into speed, the large numbers and textures of Martian soils, earthquakes were on the program in Life and Earth Sciences, and in Math, the powers of 10 and proportionality were a must.” Laetitia Bonnet pointed out. In French class, the decision was made to study works of science fiction and to write short stories on invasions. In art class, a model of the solar system was created and used in PE for the school’s cross-country run.

In English lessons, too, the weather on Mars was watched very closely. The students in the ULIS system and the circus club also took up the subject of Mars in their own ways. A show was developed with Martian music, décors and costumes; it will be put on at the auditorium in Lavelanet soon.

Educational kits proved to be of precious assistance in explaining to students concretely how the probe studies the Martian ground. “For us, the idea is to work closely with these initiatives, so our research professors are happy to meet them and to welcome middle school students to the campus for demonstrations and illustrations. Our students are closely involved. Some of the students from our M.A.R.S. Club undertook a Martian simulation mission in the Utah desert, in the United States, and have spoken about their own adventure as Marsonauts and especially about their passion, their interest in the sciences of the universe and space exploration,” explained Cécile Latournerie, head of the equal opportunities program at ISAE-SUPAERO.

Discovering a different approach to the sciences also means living the sciences and taking part in significant events. So, with this in mind, the middle school students from Lavelanet and the other partner establishments came to the campus last November to attend the direct retransmission in duplex with NASA of the InSight probe’s landing on Mars. And, to complete the picture, “We recently invited the 15 participant establishments for an evening at the Cité de l’Espace in Toulouse to present the results of their work of the year in 180 seconds with the Director of the Insight France mission in attendance, along with the Head of the SEIS Project at CNES,” explained Emilie Teyssedre, liaison officer for the diversity program equal at ISAE-SUPAERO.

As we can see, this program goes far beyond the sciences, “Something really happened for our middle school students, I’m happy for them. I hope some of them will take up science studies in college. They saw that it is possible and that they can dream!” Laetitia Bonnet concluded.

The first Marsquakes recently recorded by the InSight probe’s SEIS seismometer certainly shook things up among the ISAE-SUPAERO researchers, but also for the students and teachers from the Lavelanet Middle School!

An educational project designed to encourage vocations and to promote excellence in scientific disciplines:

- 200 young people and teachers from 22 partner establishments;
- 15 establishments presented their projects;
- Some 40 students were mobilized for the entire year and took part in organizing the evening;
- Some 10 partners including the Prefecture, the Rectorate, Sodexo and Tisséo.

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