Explore! Life on Mars

Life on Mars

Explore: Life on Mars focuses on the field of astrobiology—the search for indications that Mars may be (or was) able to support life.

This module was designed particularly to engage girls in STEM.  The complete implementation guide is also available as a PDF.

Background information about Life on Mars

Additional Mars activities are at Mars: Inside and Out!

Activities Overview

Icebreaker Activity: Is it Alive?
In this 15 minute introductory activity, children share their ideas and previous experience with living versus non–living things as a preparation for upcoming activities.

Searching for Life
In this 45–60 minute activity, children discuss how life is defined and conduct a simple experiment, looking for signs of life in three different “soil” samples.

Mars by the Book
In this 30–45 minute activity, children investigate how Mars compares to the Earth, working together to create an Earth–Mars Comparison Poster with basic facts about Mars and the Earth and a balloon scale model of the two planets.

Nurturing Life
During this 60–90 minute activity, children explore what living things need to survive and thrive by creating and caring for a garden plot (outdoors where appropriate) or a container garden (indoors) at the library.

Mars Match
This 15 minute activity engages children in an exploration of Mars' surface features by comparing and contrasting them with surface features on Earth.

Carving Channels
In this 15 minute activity, children create channel features with flowing water, comparing their observations to real images of Mars and Earth taken by satellites/orbiters.

Viewing Volcanos
In this 15 minute activity, children create volcanos like those they have examined on Earth and Mars through images taken by spacecraft.

Protecting Life: The Martian Challenge
During this 60 minute activity, children create their own ‘Martian’ using craft materials and UV beads, then take part in a Mars Creature Challenge, where they will change their creature to help it survive harsh UV conditions – like on Mars.

Mars Engineering
In this 45–60 minute activity, children work in teams to create their own models of a Mars rover out of readily available materials and craft supplies as part of a design challenge.

Mars Imaginings: The Story
During this 45–60 minute activity, children consider depictions of Mars from science fiction books and video clips and create their own Mars Science Fiction ‘Movie Trailer’ Zines.

Live Tonight: The Planets!
This activity encourages children and their families go outside on a clear evening to view the planets and other celestial bodies for themselves.

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