Explore - Mars: Inside and Out! - Setting the Scene

Mind Over Mars


In this 30 to 45 minute game, teams of children, ages 8 to13, use their knowledge of Mars — and how it compares and contrasts with Earth — to create question cards for a board game that will assess and reinforce their understanding of what they have learned. This activity can be used as a wrap-up for Geologic Scene Investigator: Part 1 or Part 2, or as a wrap-up for the entire investigation.

What's the Point?

  • Children revisit what they have learned about Mars.


For each team of 3 to 4 children:

Please refer to the Preparation section to help determine which card sets are the most appropriate.

  • One copy of the Mind Over Mars game board
  • Game pieces for each player (suggestions include different colored Hershey's kisses, gumdrops, coins, beads, or beans)
  • Scissors
  • Access to a stapler
  • Three or four pencils, pens, or markers
  • Small prizes for the winners (optional)

For the facilitator:


  • Prepare an area large enough for teams of 3 to 4 players. The children may be more comfortable playing on the floor for this activity.
  • Print Mind Over Mars game boards and copies of the Questions and Answers Templates for the appropriate number of groups. You may wish to laminate or place the game boards in sheet protectors.
    • Note that some questions and answers are specific to Geologic Scene Investigator: Part 1 or Part 2. These are annotated on the sheets. Select the cards that are most appropriate for the activities the children have completed.
    • Consider the age level of the children who will be playing. For younger children, it may be appropriate to have them create 3 questions and answers, and to supplement these with the prepared questions and answers. Groups of older children should create 9 to 12 questions and answers that are supplemented by the prepared questions and answers.
    • The larger the group playing, the more questions and answers cards will be needed before a player reaches the end.
  • Before starting, encourage the children to bring their GSI Journals with them to the game.


1. Team Up! Divide the children into groups of 3–4 and have them find a place with enough space to play a board game. Let them know that in a few minutes they will have an opportunity to apply what they have learned about Mars and how it compares and contrasts with Earth — by playing a game called Mind Over Mars!

2. Distribute the Mind Over Mars game board, Questions and Answers templates, game pieces, and scissors to each team. Explain that each team will create their own set of questions based on what they have learned about Mars, one for each blank card on the Mind Over Mars Questions template. They also will write the (correct!) answer the question on the Mind Over Mars Questions template. Groups will then trade their Question cards and Answers template and use these to play the game. Invite the children to use their GSI Journals to create the questions.

3. Appoint, or ask each team to choose, a responsible child to be their Mars Grand Answer Keeper. This child will verify the answers given by the players as correct or incorrect. (As he or she will not be a player in the game, you may wish to offer a small reward in exchange for their assistance)

4. Prepare the game! Review the rules of the game with the children:

  1. Each team will work together to create questions about what they have learned about Mars, and how it compares and contrasts with Earth. They may use information from their GSI Journals to help create the questions! Set a time limit of 10 to 15 minutes for the creation of the questions.
  2. Have a child with good handwriting be the recorder and, as each question is created, have them legibly record it on a blank card on the Mind Over Mars Questions template. Some example questions already are on the template.
  3. As each question is created and recorded, the answer to that question should also be recorded on the Mind Over Mars Answers template. Make sure to match the number on the Answer to the number on the Question. For example, Question #Q9 should be matched with Answer #A9.
  4. After the teams have completed all questions and answers, have them cut out the individual Questions Cards. The answer sheets can be stapled together. Note to facilitator: If a group has difficulty generating questions, at your discretion, you can have them use the prepared questions and answers.
  5. Before trading cards with another team, have the children set aside all GSI Journals as they will not be using them during the game.
  6. Invite the groups trade Question Cards and Answer Templates. The Answer Template goes to the team's Mars Grand Answer Keeper, who will keep the answers concealed.
  7. Get ready to play! Have each team place the Mind Over Mars Question Cards face down in the center of the game board and all game pieces in the "Start" square. Fairly choose a player to go first. The children may draw straws, play rock/paper/scissors, or ask their leader to help them choose.
  8. The first player should draw a Question Card from the top of the pile, then read the question and provide their answer out loud (no team consultation allowed!) The team's Mars Grand Answer Keeper will pronounce the answer right or wrong, and the player will follow the corresponding directions on their card depending on whether or not they answered correctly. The directions vary from card to card and will instruct the player on how many spaces to either advance or retreat on the game board.
  9. Invite the players to read the fun facts on the game board aloud the first time that a player lands on a particular square.
  10. Players should continue drawing Question Cards and answering questions. The first player to reach — or go beyond — the last square — wins! If you are using candy as game pieces, invite all players who learned something about Mars to eat their game pieces!