Creating a School (on Mars) From Scratch

Creating a School (on Mars) From Scratch

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A fresh start.

Isn’t that what so many want in education? Whether you are a student, parent, teacher, administrator, or community member, we all have our opinions on what school should look like and how it should change.

However, we also know there is SO MUCH GOOD in education right now. Teachers that make a difference. Students that are finding creative opportunities. And a chance to use as education as a bridge to a better life.

Right now, innovation is happening inside the box at schools and inside classrooms around the world. Given the restrictions, regulations, policies, and constraints of an old system, we are doing amazing things in education.

But what if we had a chance to start a school from scratch?

And what if that school wasn’t even on this planet? What if it wasn’t governed by any of our nation states? What if we really had the chance to start over, knowing what we no know about the science of learning and the brain?

Here’s your chance, and better yet, here’s a chance for your students to get in on this and design the school they’d want to go to on Mars!

Over the next couple of days I’ll be blogging about the MARS Challenge: Design a School on Mars

#marschallenge

Photo Credit: NASA/Pat Rawlings, SAIC

Announcing the MARS Challenge: Design a School on Mars From Scratch

This challenge is open to any teacher and group of students in a K-12 education setting. We provide lesson plans, student notebooks, power point presentation for each lesson, and a framework (the LAUNCH Cycle) for your students to tackle this enormous challenge of starting a school on Mars.

Here are the details:

December 1st: MARS Challenge starts (sign up your team/class/school below)
December 12th: Panel of Judges released
December 22nd: Challenge ends, all videos must be sent in for judging
January 2nd: Winners announced in four categories (K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12)

The big questions are:

1. Should a school even be on Mars?

2. If there was some type of education system on Mars, what would help further the mission of sustainability and prepare students for a future on Mars and beyond?

3. How can we learn from our years of education here on Earth to make school on Mars and even more valuable and fruitful place of learning?

The Design Challenge Overview

You’re going to make something amazing and you’re going to start on it today. It’s going to be something that has never existed before in the history of humanity.

You know how you typically turn in an assignment to your teacher and then you get it back and, well, that’s pretty much it. This is different. Working with your design team, you’re going to create something people will actually see!

The Launch Process

Look all around you. Seriously. Glance around your classroom. You are surrounded by things that people created. Not only did they create these things but they also designed them. The fancy term for this is design thinking. It’s the term professionals use. You’re going to use the LAUNCH Process. It’s a modified version of the design thinking cycle that artists and engineers use in the real world. Here’s how it works:

Look, Listen, and Learn

Ask a Ton of Questions

Understand the Problem or Process

Navigate the Ideas

Create a Prototype

Highlight What’s Working and Fix What’s Failing

Ready to Launch!

Your Challenge: Build a Model School for People Who Colonize Mars

You’re going to design and build a model school for people who colonize MARS.

Consider the following:

  1. Where will this school be located on MARS? How will you keep the people safe, but also provide a place where learning is as challenging as life on the planet?
  2. How will you accommodate each person’s unique role in colonizing MARS with what they’ll be learning?
  3. What will look similar about school here on Earth? What will look new, different, and better?
  4. What feature of school will you definitely get rid of from our current system?
  5. What special features will this school have? What kinds of cool gadgets and technology will this school have?
  6. What will the learning environment/school look like? What architectural style will you use?
  7. What will you name the school?

Your items will include:

  • Cardboard
  • Construction Paper
  • Duct Tape
  • Glue
  • Straws

Don’t forget to experiment and make tons of glorious mistakes. Ultimately, your design is going to be awesome, because it’s yours and it’s coming from your creative mind.

The Final Product

Your group will ultimately design a model school using the above materials. In order to share this model school with the world, you will have to make one of the following options below to be in the running for the final prize!

Option 1: Create a digital brochure inviting people going to MARS to join your school.

Option 2: Create a video showing and explaining the school on MARS

Option 3: Create a video advertisement for the school on MARS

How Can I Join?!?

Sign up using the form below. You’ll receive an email with the following items (all FREE):

  • Lesson Plans for the MARS Challenge (including connection to the standards and step-by-step instruction for teachers)
  • LAUNCH Student Notebook – Students have a notebook handout to fill in, sketch in, and follow throughout the entire challenge
  • PowerPoint introducing the Mars Challenge and for every lesson during the Challenge
  • Resource list for research on MARS, space travel, school design and much more!

You’ll also be asked to fill in information on your school and classroom to be a part of the official MARS Challenge that will be judged. If you don’t want to participate in the final project judging, no worries, have fun doing it with your class!

I’ll keep you updated in the coming weeks with blog posts and emails, and we will also use the hashtag #MARSchallenge to share out what our students are designing, making, and building this month!

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