The Mission: NASA has selected your engineering team to plan a human settlement on Mars. Your mission is to design a colony that considers both human health and happiness.
Success Criteria: Plan, design and construct a Mars colony with consideration for human health and happiness. Employ STEM skills and work cooperatively as a team.
First, we discussed what humans need to keep them alive and then considered the known conditions on Mars. We learnt that humans must provide their own oxygen for breathing and the temperature can range from a high of 30℃ degrees to a low of -120℃ in a single day! Y6’s solutions for breathable air ranged from extracting oxygen from the water thought to be under the polar caps on Mars, to planting trees which will generate oxygen as they photosynthesise, to finding a method of producing oxygen from the carbon dioxide in Mars’ atmosphere. Growing plants would provide a human food source and the plants would be watered with the water extracted from beneath the poles.
Next, we considered how to combat loneliness and boredom for Mars colonists and how to keep people happy. We determined that some system of rules and forms of entertainment were necessary. Medical facilities were deemed essential and, also, regular exercise to address the effect of lower gravity on the human body. We also thought about how to produce energy for the colony. Suggestions included solar energy, wind power and biomass. One method of waste disposal was to blast it off into space! Finally, we considered methods of transportation and the importance of recycling and environmental protection. The children carefully planned their colonies, giving considerable thought to a self-sufficient, sustainable colony. Eventually, the practical construction of the model colonies took place.
Afterwards, we considered who should be the first colonists and the skills they would need. Medics, engineers, scientists, programmers and builders were listed; specifically people who are resilient and willing to face formidable challenges. Would you like to be a Mars colonist living in one of our settlements for a year?
The children thoroughly enjoyed this project and showed massive engagement throughout. They demonstrated scientific thinking and a range of STEM skills: creativity, critical thinking, problem solving, teamwork and communication.