Mars Education Challenge Overview

Mars Education Challenge Overview

The Mars Education Challenge encourages science educators around the United States to develop ingenious ways to fit Mars science and exploration into the classroom. Explore Mars calls on science educators to develop Mars related curricula support materials that can be easily adopted in accordance with curriculum standards around the country.

All submissions will be judged by a panel of science educators as well as prominent members of the science/space community. Educators should design their curricula support materials to achieve the following goals:

  • Include some hands-on elements
  • Make use of analog environments and materials found on Earth
  • Teach students why Mars exploration is relevant to their lives
  • Inspire students to look at the topic from new perspectives

The science required to study Mars is largely the same “Earth” science that is currently taught in school districts around the county. As with Earth, the study of Mars requires geology, chemistry, biology, physics, and many other disciplines. The Mars Education Challenge empowers teachers to create curricula support materials that will enable educators to teach these topics in new and interesting ways by using Mars as an example. Not only will students learn required topics, they will also acquire a much greater understanding of the broader universe and how the study of space science is relevant to their lives here on Earth.

The parameters of this contest will be intentionally broad. Rather than try to dictate how this task should be accomplished, we think it would be most effective to allow science teachers to develop the appropriate format, size, and focus of their curriculum support materials.

All submissions will be judged by a panel of science educators as well as prominent members of the science/space community.

Curriculum Support Materials Requirements: Mars curriculum support materials can be any length so long as it is designed in a manner consistent with existing standards around the country (it does not have to fit within all standards). It MUST incorporate at least one scientific topic regularly taught in grades 9-12 (chemistry, biology, physics, etc.). Curriculum support materials can be designed to be taught as a whole or in smaller portions of the whole (Example: If the curriculum support materials touch on both chemistry and biology, the subsections of the curriculum support materials can be used in both chemistry and biology).

In addition, educators should try to design their curriculum support materials to achieve the following goals:

  • The curriculum support materials should have some hands on elements
  • It should make use of analog environments/materials/examples here on Earth
  • It should teach students why Mars exploration is relevant to their lives
  • The curriculum support materials should be designed in such a way that it will inspire students to look at the topic from new perspectives

Grade Level: Curriculum support materials should be appropriate for grades 9-12
Requirements: All applicants MUST be science teachers in the United States (or US territories)
Launch Date: September 13, 2010
Curriculum Support Materials Submission Deadline: January 31, 2011
Awards Notification: February 2011
National Finalist Presentations: February 2011
National Award Ceremony: March 2011

This will be the first of many Mars Education Challenges over the upcoming years. Working with our partners and sponsors, we hope to excite students about space exploration, and to promote new and innovative curriculum support materials that will empower teachers to spark interest in science and engineering. Explore Mars is an international organization. As such, we hope to launch international education programming starting in 2011.

Awards Ceremonies

National Award at the NSTA National Conference in San Francisco – March 10-13, 1011

The Mars Education Challenge will be expanded over the next few years and in doing so will build a database of science lessons that fit within the standard curriculum, while also making the lessons more exciting for their pupils. This database will be available on the Explore Mars, Inc. website for all teachers to freely download. More details on the 2011-2012 MEC will be made available soon, but we hope that teachers will continue to submit their lessons for using Mars in the classroom. This wealth of knowledge will grab the attention of students and keep them interested in STEM for their future careers.

The Mars Education Challenge was generously sponsored by Aerojet, The GenCorp Foundation, The Louis L. Stott Foundation, and Massachusetts Space Grant Consortium. In addition, MEC could not have taken place without partnership of the National Science Teachers Association, The Planetary Society, The Moon Society, and the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS).


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