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Mission to Mars: 10 Elementary STEM Activities (Distance Learning Curriculum)

Vivify STEM
Grade Levels
PreK - 5th, Homeschool
Formats Included
  • Zip
150 pages
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Vivify STEM

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  1. Need space STEM activities? Are you looking for Moon-themed activities to celebrate the Apollo anniversary? Launch your students into STEM with these space-themed STEM challenges that incorporate the engineering design process. This GROWING mega bundle is jam-packed for space STEM challenges for the
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Transform your classroom into a team of astronauts on a Mission to Mars! Updated for distance learning!

This STEM curriculum begins with Stage 1 team challenges that build teamwork and communication skills. Astronaut Alex then guides the class through Stage 2 engineering design challenges with each unit a progressively more complex design challenge as students arrive at and explore Mars. Units are aligned to science and math standards along with a different career focus and STEM word of the day such as teamwork, resilience, and leadership.

Over the years of teaching STEM, we found that kids love stories. And what greater story than a thrilling adventure in space? The result is Launchpad, a 10 unit curriculum that launches students into the world of STEM! Read a detailed blog post overview here and a description of some of the activities here.

**Now updated with a distance learning version that includes Google slide handouts and instructional videos! *

Vivify STEM presents Launchpad: A Mission to Mars

Through interactive sessions, Launchpad students become a team of astronauts challenged to complete 10 missions centered around a Journey to Mars. Each week, students will read a message from Astronaut Alex, who will introduce the activity, provide background context, and connect to a STEM career. Students will then engage in hands-on activities centered around the engineering design process.

Tested curriculum: 35 educators have implemented Launchpad with over 500 students in 40 schools!

Launchpad curriculum includes 10 STEM challenges:

  1. Meet the Crew: Team Challenges
  2. Astronaut Training: Mars Trivia Game + Astronaut Boot Engineering Challenge
  3. Get to Mars: Straw Rockets Engineering Challenge
  4. Land on Mars*: Landing Device Engineering Challenge
  5. Transport Crew*: Zipline Engineering Challenge
  6. Build a Base: UV Science Experiment + Shelter Engineering Challenge
  7. Build a Rover: Conductivity Science Experiment + Bristlebot Engineering Challenge
  8. Explore Mars: Grabber Engineering Challenge
  9. Entertainment on Mars: Roller coaster Engineering Challenge
  10. Mission Success: Coke Mentos Geyser + Atomic Slime

Need a middle school STEM curriculum? Find Middle School Launchpad here.

*Prefer a Moon version? Find Mission to Moon here. Except for *starred activities, most challenges are similar between Mars and Moon versions. We use both Moon and Mars versions with the same group of students, but they are implemented a year apart.

Curriculum includes:

  • Digital version includes Google Slide journals and instructional videos
  • Intro to STEM Education
  • 10 STEM Missions following a story line
  • Supply list with links
  • Alignment to NGSS, TEKS (Texas), and CCSS Math
  • Step-by-step teacher guide with photos
  • Student mission sheets with real-world connections and photos
  • Editable Teacher companion slides with videos, vocabulary, storyline, and guide through each design challenge (over 150 slides!)

Looking for more STEM lessons? Find the Vivify resource guide here: bit.ly/VivifyResourceGuide

About STEM Challenges: Click here to learn more about the 3 Stages of STEM. STEM challenges are an engaging way to incorporate the engineering design process into your classroom or after school program! These hands-on activities allow students to work in teams, apply the engineering design process, and connect science topics to real-world applications. The teacher will provide the structure to the project, but students will take an active role in designing and building their own device.

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Total Pages
150 pages
Answer Key
Included with rubric
Teaching Duration
1 month
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Use tools and materials to design and build a structure that will reduce the warming effect of sunlight on an area. Examples of structures could include umbrellas, canopies, and tents that minimize the warming effect of the sun.
Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
Support an argument that the gravitational force exerted by Earth on objects is directed down. “Down” is a local description of the direction that points toward the center of the spherical Earth. Assessment does not include mathematical representation of gravitational force.
Develop a model using an example to describe ways the geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and/or atmosphere interact. Examples could include the influence of the ocean on ecosystems, landform shape, and climate; the influence of the atmosphere on landforms and ecosystems through weather and climate; and the influence of mountain ranges on winds and clouds in the atmosphere. The geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere are each a system. Assessment is limited to the interactions of two systems at a time.
Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.


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