The MARS Challenge: Design a School on Mars From Scratch

One of the few blogs I read with regularity is A.J. Juliani's Blog - it's one of only a couple I get delivered to my inbox!

His newest blog post poses a challenge - one that is open to ANY teacher!  I encourage you to check it out and think about stepping up to the challenge with a group of your students.  I've included some highlights below - if you would like full details, check out the original blog post here: Creating a School (on Mars) from Scratch.

The hashtag #MARSchallenge with be used to share out what students are designing, making, and building this month.  If nothing else - follow along to see what others are creating!

Mars Challenge
Image from A.J. Juliani Blog - used with permission.

From A.J. Juliani's blog:

This challenge is open to any teacher and group of students in a K-12 education setting. We provide lesson plans, student notebooks, power point presentation for each lesson, and a framework (the LAUNCH Cycle) for your students to tackle this enormous challenge of starting a school on Mars.
Here are the details:
December 1st: MARS Challenge starts (sign up your team/class/school below)
December 12th: Panel of Judges released
December 22nd: Challenge ends, all videos must be sent in for judging
January 2nd: Winners announced in four categories (K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12)
The big questions are:
1. Should a school even be on Mars?
2. If there was some type of education system on Mars, what would help further the mission of sustainability and prepare students for a future on Mars and beyond?
3. How can we learn from our years of education here on Earth to make school on Mars an even more valuable and fruitful place of learning?

The Design Challenge Overview

You’re going to make something amazing and you’re going to start on it today. It’s going to be something that has never existed before in the history of humanity.
You know how you typically turn in an assignment to your teacher and then you get it back and, well, that’s pretty much it. This is different. Working with your design team, you’re going to create something people will actually see!
The Launch Process
Look all around you. Seriously. Glance around your classroom. You are surrounded by things that people created. Not only did they create these things but they also designed them. The fancy term for this is design thinking. It’s the term professionals use. You’re going to use the LAUNCH Process. It’s a modified version of the design thinking cycle that artists and engineers use in the real world. Here’s how it works:
Look, Listen, and Learn
Ask a Ton of Questions
Understand the Problem or Process
Navigate the Ideas
Create a Prototype
Highlight What’s Working and Fix What’s Failing
Ready to Launch!

Your Challenge: Build a Model School for People Who Colonize Mars

How Can I Join?!?

Sign up using the form here (at the bottom of the post). You’ll receive an email with the following items (all FREE):
  • Lesson Plans for the MARS Challenge (including connection to the standards and step-by-step instruction for teachers)
  • LAUNCH Student Notebook – Students have a notebook handout to fill in, sketch in, and follow throughout the entire challenge
  • PowerPoint introducing the Mars Challenge and for every lesson during the Challenge
  • Resource list for research on MARS, space travel, school design and much more!
You’ll also be asked to fill in information on your school and classroom to be a part of the official MARS Challenge that will be judged. If you don’t want to participate in the final project judging, no worries, have fun doing it with your class!

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