Join in the summer fun and immerse your youth in the latest exploration of Mars with NASA’s Mission to Mars Student Challenge for Summer Camps! A 7-week series of hands-on activities take youth from learning about Mars, planning a mission, launch and landing, and exploring the surface – all while following the Perseverance Rover’s current exploration of Mars!
To help you implement one or more of these activities in your summer program, we are offering a series of one-hour trainings that will show camp and afterschool leaders how to guide youth through an activity from each phase of the challenge. No prior STEM experience is necessary! We’ll present a variety of activity styles from hands-on to on-line, focusing on the science, engineering, and art of exploring Mars. Our primary focus will be youth of upper elementary and middle school age, but we’ll touch on options for younger and older kids.
We’ll have time for your questions during each training, plus we’ll devote the final training to share experiences in implementing the activities in summer camp, encourage student project sharing, and take more questions.
Bring your supplies and work the activity along with us, and if you can’t join us live, you can watch the recordings later.
Attend them all (see the full schedule), or pick the ones that interest you and your kids the most! Complement the activities with virtual community-wide talks with Mars 2020 mission experts during the summer!
Join us for six, live webinars and learn directly from JPL scientists and engineers discussing their STEM careers starting at the end of June through the end of July. Register for each session below!
In this session, NASA experts talked about Ingenuity, the first helicopter designed to fly on Mars. They discussed what to expect as they prepared for Ingenuity's historic first flight. Learn what it took to design a helicopter capable of flying in Mars’ ultra-thin atmosphere, what to expect during the historic first flight, and how to follow along with resources from NASA.
Perseverance has landed safely on Mars! A successful landing in such a dangerous environment is a testament to the power of teamwork and dedication by NASA scientists and engineers. Though we are now safely on the surface, this is really only the beginning of the most technologically advanced rover mission in history!
In celebration of a successful landing, NASA is rolling out two additional weeks of the Mission to Mars Student Challenge! These bonus weeks can be done any time and even extended over a longer period of time. After all, the Perseverance rover mission is planned to last more than two Earth years.
In the first of our bonus weeks, all about surface operations, students will engage in scientific investigations that will have their missions roving the surface and looking for signs of life while studying Mars' interior, volcanoes, and rocks. Now that we’ve successfully landed on Mars, it’s time to explore and do science! After NASA engineers put the rover through a series of system health checks, it will be time to get busy learning about our landing site. This week, students learn how we drive rovers on Mars and how we use science tools, or instruments, to investigate rocks and volcanoes, look for life, and more. Here’s Amila Cooray, a mechatronics engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, with some expert info about how NASA conducts surface operations on Mars. Learn more here!
Mission to Mars Student Challenge: Surface Operations
After safely touching down on the surface of Mars, it's time for students to start operating their spacecraft. Amila Cooray, a mechatronics engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, talks about his job on the Perseverance Mars rover mission and what goes into operating a mission on the surface of the Red Planet. Watch on YouTube
Lessons & Activities
Engage your students in learning about Mars next week with these activities, also available under the "Operations" Education Plan on the challenge website. Remember: Lessons and activities are aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core State Standards for Mathematics, and can be done in any order, in part or in full, as schedules allow.
One of the most challenging parts of the Perseverance rover mission is collecting samples of Mars rocks and soil, placing those samples into tubes, and leaving them strategically on the surface, where they could eventually be collected and returned to Earth by future missions. This week, students learn how we sample rocks on Mars and package these samples for return to Earth sometime in the future. Students can also consider how a future mission might collect these samples by programming a video game to do just that.
This week is especially fun for students because they’ll be thinking about doing something NASA has never done before – bringing samples from Mars to Earth. Here’s Aaron Yazzie, a mechanical engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, with some expert advice about how NASA handles Mars samples. Learn more here!
Mission to Mars Student Challenge: Sample Handling
An important part of the Perseverance Mars rover mission is to collect and store rock samples for future missions to retrieve and eventually return to Earth. Aaron Yazzie, a mechanical engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, talks about his job on the Perseverance Mars rover mission and how the rover will collect and store samples on the Red Planet. Watch on YouTube
Lessons & Activities
Engage your students in learning about Mars next week with these activities, also available under the "Sampling" Education Plan on the challenge website. Remember: Lessons and activities are aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core State Standards for Mathematics, and can be done in any order, in part or in full, as schedules allow.
Learn about Mars, make and test a parachute and find out how to re-engage your youth in the successful Perseverance Mars rover landing in February. In this recording of a STEM enrichment training (held on Jan. 21, 2021) experts at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory walk through activities featured in the Mission to Mars Student Challenge and discuss how to incorporate them in an out-of-school setting.
Find step-by-step instructions and supply lists for the activities featured in this training at:
NASA’s Museum & Informal Education Alliance is a great way to get the resources, trainings, and tools that make it easy to incorporate NASA content into your programming, year round.
Visit the Mission to Mars Student Challenge landing page to explore more, including:
See you on Mars!