Mission To Mars is an incredibly successful project I did with my middle school students. In collaborative groups, students propose and design "fully functional" Mars colonies. I designed this project due to the thriving real world relevance today. Mars is becoming increasingly closer to experiencing human footsteps.
The project utilizes various roles and abilities of the students ranging from scientific research to creativity and design. Students are asked to do the following:
1. Brainstorm key vocabulary words
2. Propose a Mars colony by filling out a proposal form and submitting it to the Director of Mars Exploration (the teacher)
3. Apply for a technology grant
4. Design colony blueprints
5. Design a meaningful flag
6. Make a public advertisement/tourist flyer
7. Build a physical model of the colony (materials-dependent)
Though materials are not included for it, I introduced this project alongside a reading of a chapter from Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles. I also purposefully did not include materials for the model building due to the differences in materials that teachers may have and use. Two weeks is an ideal time to design the colonies, but it can certainly be done in one week.
This was a project that had students talking about it outside of the classroom. I saw so much enthusiasm and collaborative throughout the project and I hope you will too
If you enjoyed Mission To Mars, don't forget to look at our supplemental study guide and exam for 2001: A Space Odyssey